Ecogenomics of mining areas for sustainable Canadian North (GENOSCAN)
Ilga Porth (Wood and forest sciences), Juan Carlos Villarreal Aguilar (Biology), Paule Halley (Law), François Laviolette (Computer science and software engineering), Jacques Corbeil (Molecular medicine)
Tata Steel Minerals Canada, T2 Environment, Viridis Terra International, Ashini Consultants
The northern region is a bio-cultural heritage landscape of our planet, which is rich in natural resources and discrete Indigenous communities. According to the Conference Board of Canada report, Canada’s North is set to become a mining powerhouse within the next decade. In Québec, the Plan Nord 2035 is a key element in a major strategy to stimulate economic recovery and maximize economic benefits through strong participation by and inclusion of indigenous peoples. The government is planning total investments of up to $50 billion by 2035, with about $3.6 billion invested in 2019 alone. However, this region is very sensitive and fragile with respect to anthropogenic activities such as mining.
Our project activities aim to:
- understand the impacts of mining activities that are amplified by climate change on soil-plant microbiomes of Arctic and subarctic ecosystems through the development and application of new omics tools;
- apply and validate the EcoChip platform, developed under a Sentinel North-funded project for the first time in the mining sector to monitor environmental health through data flows acquired over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales;
- analyze omics “big data” using bioinformatics and artificial intelligence learning algorithms to develop precision predictive and early warning models;
- integrate omics solutions into the northern mining sector through transdisciplinary approaches, taking into account social acceptability and governance issues;
- communicate and transfer research results efficiently to northern users.
Anticipated benefits are:
- the establishment of permanent research and demonstration sites as showcases for studying mine site ecosystem restoration in northern ecosystems;
- the validation of EcoChip platform use in the mining sector;
- the training of highly qualified personnel in transdisciplinary research for successful and sustainable clean mining growth in the North;
- the international impact of Canadian expertise among circumpolar countries.