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Welcome to the Mineral Deposit Research Unit

The Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) is a collaborative venture between the mining industry and The University of British Columbia (UBC). The unit, which was established in 1989 with support and financial assistance from the mining industry and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), is an important part of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and an internationally recognized research group devoted to solving mineral exploration-related problems. (read more)


New Initiatives and Research Opportunities

Yukon - Alaska Metallogeny

Building on successes of the recently completed Yukon Gold Project, MDRU are further developing the regional geological and metallogenic framework for poorly understood portions of the northern Cordillera. MDRU are initiating a new research project that extends and applies the knowledge and expertise generated in the White Gold and Dawson Range districts of west-central Yukon into parts of east and central Alaska such as the Fortymile and Goodpaster districts. The framework for intrusion-related and orogenic gold systems developed in this project will be of direct benefit to exploration targeting and deposit characterization over a broad geographic region.

(read more)


Ore Pathfinders in Lithocaps

Large-tonnage high sufidation epithermal Au-Ag deposits are hosted by intensely altered rocks forming part of a so-called lithocap. The ores are hosted within zones of residual quartz (a.k.a.,vuggy silica) that is the result of intense acid-leaching alteration. However, not all zones of residual quartz alteration and not all lithocaps host gold mineralization. This project will establish criteria to distinguish barren from mineralized lithocaps. This will be done using geochemical methods as well as by identification of pathfinder minerals and their mineralogical and geochemical characteristics. The study of these pathfinder minerals will also provide important vectoring criteria within lithocaps. A new methodology that allows rapid identification of pathfinder minerals derived from the erosion of high-sulfidation epithermal deposits in stream sediment samples will also be established. The most abundant mineral in lithocaps is quartz. Thus, emphasis will be placed on the recognition of different types of quartz present in lithocaps, and on establishing criteria for identifying quartz potentially related to mineralization.

(read more)


Carbonate Alteration Footprints

Carbonate-hosted mineral deposits generally have relatively narrow and poorly-developed alteration footprints. However, interactions between hydrothermal fluids and carbonate rocks are recorded by carbon and oxygen isotopes within the carbonate host rocks and veins. This isotopic alteration footprint tends to extend well beyond the limits of ore and visible alteration, as well as geochemical anomalies.

MDRU has initiated a three-year, industry-sponsored research project to test the application of stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in carbonate rocks. In order to maximize potential application to exploration, this project will utilize a new, field-portable instrument that MDRU has developed. This project is of benefit to companies exploring for carbonate-hosted deposits, who recognize the potential to apply new technology and new approaches to improve targeting and vectoring towards mineralization.

(read more)


Andean Metallogeny

Mining and exploration companies in Latin America increasingly need to recruit skilled geologists. There are shortages of highly-qualified personnel because of the general lack of accessibility to post-graduate programs and systemic weakness in the educational system. Likewise, university-based research that addresses exploration issues is limited in many countries by the lack of funding, limited senior research staff and/or access to analytical facilities. MDRU, together with partner institutions in Santiago, Chile, are contributing to knowledge and expertise to help meet the skill shortages and improve economic geology research development throughout the Andean region. This initiative has been encouraged by the mineral exploration industry to address a fundamental issue that industry currently faces in many Andean Countries.

For more information on this initiative, please contact Thomas Bissig.


PIMS - Porphyry Indicator Minerals

Porphyry indicator minerals (PIMS) display unique physical and chemical properties that allow their presence in surficial materials to be linked back to a porphyry deposit, related intrusion or alteration assemblage. The common occurrence of resistate minerals, e.g., apatite, rutile, zircon, titanite, garnet and titanomagnetite, in porphyry deposits indicates that these minerals can be utilized as indicators for mineralization in covered terranes.

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Carbon Sequestration in Ultramafic Mine Tailings

Ultramafic mine waste has an inherent but untapped capacity to permanently trap the green-house gas carbon dioxide (CO2) thus affording environmental and regulatory benefit through greenhouse gas offsets or trading credits. Carbon uptake results from the large reactive surface areas generated by comminution. Carbon fixation is therefore directly attributable to mine operations. Carbon is fixed in mineral precipitates, thus sequestering it from the atmosphere. These reactions happen spontaneously and are affected by the mineralogy of mine tailings, the local climate, and the way that tailings are processed, transported, deposited, and stored. To achieve meaningful offsets of mine emissions, carbon fixation reactions must be accelerated. This project will build on more than a decade of research at MDRU and seeks to enhance the reactivity of tailings minerals with CO2 by examining opportunities in the mining cycle from comminution to tailings storage.

(read more)



MDRU Highlights

10 Ways MDRU Rocked in 2015
Press Release:
$2.5M Boost to Exploration Geochemistry
Press Release:
MDRU rises to the Integra Gold Rush Challenge

MDRU Corporate Membership

Click for more details regarding MDRU Corporate Membership, or download our Member Benefits Flyer (pdf)

Donate to MDRU, contact:
Allan Berezny, 604.822.8686

MDRU Corporate Membership List

2016 SEG Conference: Tethyan Tectonics and Metallogeny

September 25-28, 2016

Visit our booth for new project opportunities and hear about our recent work in the Tethyan metallogenic belt.

Register for the pre-conference short course led by Peter Winterburn
Exploration Geochemistry: Putting Principles into Practices

New Initiatives

Exploration Geochemistry
Yukon - Alaska Metallogeny
Ore Pathfinders in Lithocaps
Carbonate Alteration Footprints
Andean Metallogeny
PIMS - Porphyry Indicator Minerals
Carbon Sequestration
COPEDIM - an International Joint Laboratory of Geosciences

Upcoming Events

Events of interest to MDRU Members
and Friends


February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
December 2014
October 2014
March 2014
January 2014
November 2013
August 2013
May 2013
March 2013
December 2012
October 2012
March 2012
November 2011
September 2011

Career Opportunities

We currently have no open postings, but are always looking for talented and motivated researchers. Please contact our Director, Craig Hart, to discuss the potential for future opportunities with MDRU.

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