MDRU-Mineral Deposit Research Unit is a collaborative research venture between the minerals industry and The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

We are an integrated geological, geochemical and geophysical research group that solves exploration and mining problems with applied geoscientific research projects. These projects form the basis for graduate student education and training and their eventual employment in the industry.

We also provide professional development opportunities to the minerals community through short courses, workshops and in-house training. We are international in scope with research projects and graduate students from throughout the world with a current emphasis on the western margins of North and South Americas, as well as eastern Europe and central Eurasia.


MDRU was initiated in 1989 by the minerals industry to fulfill a need for improved research, training and professional education directed towards minerals exploration geoscience. MDRU was established through the establishment of a research partnership with The University of British Columbia, with financial start-up assistance from the minerals industry and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). MDRU was founded by Prof. Alastair Sinclair, Dr. Peter Bradshaw and Dr. John McDonald.

In 2013, MDRU developed the Exploration Geochemistry Initiative and hired a Research Chair to facilitate increased research and training in this discipline.  In 2015, MDRU celebrated 25 years of industry-supported research with a two-day technical meeting and gala. In 2017, the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining was implemented to increase the breadth of MDRU’s activities towards geometallurgy, mining, mineral processing and tailings.

MDRU has been led by Directors John McDonald (Founding), John Thompson, Ian Thomson (interim), Richard Tosdal and Craig Hart.

MDRU History

MDRU has a diverse and global foundation of supporting mining, exploration and service companies that provide essential operational funding through annual membership fees. This support is the vital starting point that allows MDRU to provide leadership in research, education and professional training. MDRU operations are proudly industry-supported with no direct funding from government.

There are several membership categories, the highest being Foundation Members who contribute leadership and strategic influence to our research activities and operations. Beyond the goodwill provided by membership, our corporate members are rewarded with a range of benefits including the opportunity to participate in research projects, and access to our expertise, students, equipment and training.

MDRU Members

The Mineral Deposit Research Unit at the University of British Columbia relies on a core group of staff, researchers and students. We also receive guidance from a Board of Directors who provide industry insight and collaborate with other industry affiliates. Our Alumni are represented across the mineral exploration industry and beyond.


MDRU has a Board of Directors that comprises industry representatives from our Foundation Members, as well as representatives from UBC administration and faculty, as well as from Independent Directors to provide guidance and wisdom to MDRU’s vision and strategic direction. A smaller Executive Committee focuses more directly on MDRU’s operations and administration. The Director reports to the Board.


MDRU are always looking for skilled individuals to join our group. We encourage enquiries of how your research expertise and interests can contribute to our organization, industry interests and project development.