Vancouver Campus

About MDRU

Science. Exploration. discovery.

Together in the journey of exploration through science led discovery.

As an integrated geological, geochemical and geophysical research group, we solve exploration and mining challenges with applied geoscientific research projects. We support our members by providing professional development opportunities through short courses, workshops and in-house training. MDRU members use our research to enhance the value of their exploration and mineral projects.




Agnico-Eagles Mines Limited
AngloGold Ashanti Limited
Centerra Gold Inc.
Coeur Mining Inc
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd
Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Hecla Canada Ltd
Vale Canada Ltd

Alamos Gold Inc.
Antofagasta Minerals Canada
Arca Climate Technologies Inc.
Equinox Gold Corp.
Imperial Metals Corp
Ivanhoe Electric Inc.
KoBold Metals
Skeena Resources
SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc.
Taseko Mines Limited

Almadex Minerals Ltd.
Arras Minerals Corp.
Brixton Metals Corporation
Condor North Consulting ULC
Core Assets Corp.
Durendal Resources Inc.
Fireweed Metals Corp.
Freegold Ventures Limited
GR Silver Mining Ltd
Hannan Metals Limited
Jaxon Mining Inc.
Komatiite Exploration Ltd
Mag Silver Corp.
Metallis Resources Inc.
Mountain Boy Minerals Ltd
Nevada Exploration Inc.
Northisle Copper and Gold Inc.
NorthWest Copper Corp.
P2 Gold Inc
Pacific Ridge Exploration Ltd.
Perseverance Metals
Quebec Nickel Corp.
Red Canyon Resources Ltd.
Regency Silver Corp
Riverside Resources Inc.
Romios Gold Resources Inc.
Sitka Gold Corp
Snowline Gold Corp
Stillwater Critical Minerals Corp.
Stuhini Exploration Ltd.
Tectonic Metals Inc.
Tudor Gold Corp.
Westhaven Gold Corp.
Zacapa Resources Ltd.

Ben Whiting
Brock Riedell
Christopher A. Smith
Christopher F.B. Sebert
Clinton Smyth
Dan Brisbin
David Rhys
Erin Looby
Fabrizio Colombo
Greg Davison
Ian Borg
Matthew Bodnar
Pablo Mejia-Herrera
Phil Smerchanski
Ron Britten
Stephen Cook
William Taylor



Newmont Corporation (Chair)


Rio Tinto (Vice Chair)​


Eldorado Gold Corp. (Past Chair)


Teck Resources Limited


ALS Global


Barrick Gold Corp.​

Dave Lawie

IMDEX Limited


Coloured Ties Capital Inc.


Past-President AME (Independent)


Agentis Capital (Independent)

Nicole Januszczak


Bill Fischer



UBC Science

Erik Eberhardt







Natasha Barrett

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Farhad Bouzari

Research Associate

Nikola Denisová

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Cassady Harraden

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kenneth Hickey

Assistant Professor


Business and Research Manager

Hildebrando Leal-Mejía

Research Associate


Communications Manager

Matthew Manor

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Brian McNulty

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Nichole Moerhuis

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

MANA Rahimi

Research Associate

Maria Rodriguez Mustafa

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kate Rubingh

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Finance Specialist

MDRU was established in 1989 in response to needs expressed by the mineral industry.

The concept was conceived during discussions between Peter Bradshaw (then with Orvana Minerals and now First Point Minerals) and Professor Alastair Sinclair, then Head of Dept. of Geological Sciences at UBC.  Establishment of a new applied research group was supported and implemented by the then Dean of Science Barry McBride, and by the then UBC President David Strangway who emphasized that it be uniquely established as a “Unit”.  MDRU’s initiation was supported financially with funds from the mining industry and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


1989-1990: Dr John McDonald (B.Sc. University of Manitoba; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin), was the initial and founding MDRU Director during its development and was supported by Esso Minerals Canada where he was Chief Geologist and Exploration Manager for Western Canada.

1991-1998: Dr John F.H. Thompson (BA Oxon, PhD Toronto) was appointed as the first MDRU Director.

1998: Dr. Ian Thomson (Ph.D., Imperial College and then of Orvana Minerals) became Interim Director.

1999-2008: Dr Richard M. Tosdal (Ph.D., BA, UCalifornia, Santa Barbara) previously with the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park was appointed as the second MDRU Director.

2009-June 2020: Dr Craig Hart (BSc McMaster; MSc UBC, PhD UWesternAustralia) became the third MDRU Director

July-November 2020: Dr. Simon Peacock was appointed Interim Director.

November 2020-Current: Dr. Shaun Barker is the current MDRU Director.


To ensure longevity of the unit, an endowment was established in 1998 to provide support for Director’s salary. The endowment was funded by contributions from financial institutions and mineral companies and matched by contributions from UBC. This was further enhanced by a donation in 1999 from a Vancouver-based company as a result of actions by the BC Securities Commission. The MDRU Endowment continues to provide a financial contribution to its operations.  Contributions to MDRU Operations and to the Endowment are welcome and are tax deductible.


In 2007, MDRU was awarded the Leo Derikx Synergy Award from NSERC.  The award recognize partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development (R&D) between universities and Canadian industry.   This award honours the most outstanding achievements of industry–university collaborations in  the natural sciences and engineering across Canada.  On October 29th, 2007, Director Richard Tosdal attended the award ceremony in Ottawa to receive a $25,000 research grant on behalf of MDRU for their successful partnership in mineral exploration with Kennecott Canada Exploration Inc., Teck Cominco Limited, and Barrick Gold Corporation. Research relationships with with these and other companies are the track record that of effective partnerships and are the foundation of this award.

In 2008, a Special Tribute Award was presented by the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia. This award recognized the many years of collaborative research with the minerals industry and the training of geoscientists through graduate and Post-Doctoral research.

In 2015, MDRU celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a two-day technical event and gala.

Since its inception, MDRU has provided, supported, educated and trained more than 110 MSc students and 30 PhD students with projects, funding, expertise and research opportunities.  In addition, there have been more than 45 Post-Doctoral Fellows and Research Associates that have contributed to projects and received applied minerals research training.  MDRU students are prodigious winners of scholarships and awards. 

There have been more than 50 completed research projects and there are about 20 active projects. If you have a research project idea or a problem you’d like to solve, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you.



MDRU, BRIMM, IDEON, IMDEX & NSERC partner on the Value of Ore Body Knowledge


Vancouver, Canada (October 25, 2023) – The Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) and the Bradshaw Research Institute for Mining and Minerals (BRIMM) are pleased to announce the award of $599,200 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance program, matching $300,000 in industry cash contributions from IMDEX and Ideon Technologies. The project “Determining the full value of ore body knowledge in Mineral Exploration and Mining” will provide a geostatistical and financial framework to allow quantification of the financial costs, benefits, and risk reduction associated with collecting ore body knowledge during mineral exploration, mineral resource definition, and mining.

The project builds upon recently published work by Dr. Andrew Gillis with BRIMM Director John Steen, which demonstrates that much of the poor financial performance of the mining sector can be attributed to underinvestment in geological information. Steen says, “We have the evidence that ore-body knowledge creates value for mining companies, but this project will show how much value can be attributed to geological investigations through the life of the mine”.

MDRU Director Shaun Barker, project lead said that “This is such an exciting time to be a geologist, with almost endless technologies that improve our understanding of the rocks we encounter. As geologists, we value as much information about the rocks that we explore and mine as possible, but we typically are unable to place value on that information –this project seeks to fill that gap in knowledge so that geologists can quantitatively assess which datasets will most impact the value of their project.”

Global mining-tech company IMDEX is leading the development of innovative ore body knowledge technology including through its IMDEX BLAST DOGTM, a semi-autonomously deployed borehole sensing and physical measurement technology that provides near real-time ore body knowledge and physical information of the blast hole.  IMDEX Chief Geoscientist Dave Lawie said the research findings would contribute to knowledge on the economic benefits of enhanced OBK, promote adoption of new technologies, and help define future research and development directions in the mining industry.

Ideon Technologies is a Vancouver-based scale-up that uses the energy from supernova explosions in space to provide x-ray-like visibility down to 1km beneath the Earth’s surface. The company is addressing the worldwide shortage in critical mineral supply by helping mining companies enhance their ore-body knowledge and precisely target high-recovery, low-waste deposits. “Mining companies make billion-dollar decisions based on fractional knowledge of what’s beneath the surface. It’s risky, costly, and it’s not yielding returns,” said CTO Doug Schouten. “This collaboration addresses the underlying problem of geological uncertainty. Using new subsurface intelligence to provide confidence in ore body characteristics, industry can better inform mine planning, extend mine life, leverage deposits previously considered inadequate, and achieve greater efficiencies across the entire mining value chain.”

The research program, which will run till late 2025, will support 3 postdoctoral researchers and 2 Masters students and will involve close collaboration across the research team including Drs. Barker and Steen, Dr. Cassady Harraden (postdoctoral researcher at MDRU), Asst. Prof. Lindsey Heagy (Dept. of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences), Dr. Dave Lawie (IMDEX) and Dr. Doug Schouten (Ideon Technologies).