[What's inside your cellphone? Ask a Mining Engineer.]
Dr. Julian Ortiz, Department Head, Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining:
Mining as an industry is a very complex industry. The students need to learn many different unique operations and processes that goes all the way from understanding basic sciences, such as geology, math, computing, chemistry, to specific engineering sciences
related to the different things we need to do -- breaking rocks, processing the rock to recover the
metals that we're interested in, and also understanding all the other implications - environmental, sustainability.
So for example, for a cell phone, there is a lot of very specific metals that are involved in the construction of the circuit of the cell phone. We need raw materials and raw materials have to come from somewhere.
Ryan Kealey, MASc candidate:
No one thinks what goes into their smart phones. No one thinks about what goes into
these windmills for wind energy. No one thinks about what goes into the solar panels for solar energy. Those green technologies, we're going to need those to transition off fossil fuels and we're still gonna need cell phones, we're still going to need computers.
Dr. Ortiz: Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining has some of the most up to date facilities in terms of the labs in Canada. We have a very nice lab for rock mechanics.
Rielo, Senior Program Coordinator:
The Rock Mechanics lab is used for undergrad laboratories, for grad research and also for commercial testing. They learn instrumentation. They learn what the standards are for rock testing. Companies bridge with the students, and it comes out with a lot of hiring.
We have, mineral processing and hydrometallurgy lab as well. They have very high-end equipment for analysis of samples.
Farzaneh, Post Doctoral Fellow:
I'm a member of the hydrometallurgical group in the mining department. We work to extract any element to make a pure compound, to be used in any application.
James, PhD candidate:
I am working on bio-hydrometallurgical extraction of gold, using bacteria instead of chemicals to remove metals from rocks. All of our labs are nice and clean, with state-of-the-art equipment such as our reactors and our high-tech microscopes and other analytical equipment.
The blasting side is pretty unique. There aren't many in the world. So there aren't many institutions or universities that have a place to actually test, explosives and blasting. The program at Queens in particular has a fairly strong emphasis on social impact and sustainability.
Here, we don't focus on just the extraction methods and how to extract, the elements, but we also want to improve the processes in a way that they, they are more efficient and at the same eco-friendly.
Noufou, MASc candidate:
My main project is on the recycling of spent lithium batteries. We are just trying to come up with some good methods to just recycle the spent lithium batteries so that it will be more and more sustainable - like rechargeable batteries coming from phones, from laptops, and also from the new electrical cars. So when the battery will be spent, instead of just landfilling them and destroying the environment, we've decided to just recycle them.
I chose mining engineering because I knew I wanted to travel. And mining is global. I also knew I was interested in green technology and electric vehicles. I wanted to come at that from the material science side. It's actually a pretty technical industry with a lot of automated systems. What's really cool though, about mining is that there's so many open opportunities because it's the first step of any new innovation.
Mining is a, is a very complex and interdisciplinary area changing at a very high pace, bringing all the digital technology into the operations, developing automated systems, developing robotic systems. And for that, we need people that understand what the mining processes are and are skilled enough to actually bring those technologies into the mining industry. The other thing I would say to students is that if they are interested in learning different cultures and if they have a sensitivity for the environment and they want to do better in terms of our impact as humans, mining basically offers opportunities to make those things better. And for that, we need smart people interested and motivated to solve those problems.