With an investment of $165,000 NBIF helped build a new, high-powered laser ablation laboratory for Dr. Chris McFarlane at the University of New Brunswick. The new technology allows Dr. McFarlane and his colleagues to develop novel methods for locating undiscovered deposits of precious metals and other ores. McFarlane has worked with Freewest Resources Canada Inc. (TSX.V:FWR) on its Clarence Stream gold exploration property; Xstrata Zinc in the Bathurst Mining Camp; and Adex Mining Inc. (TSX.V:ADE) on its Mount Pleasant indium-tin tungsten-molybdenum property.
The laboratory uses a deep UV laser connected to a mass spectrometer to probe the chemistry of rocks and minerals at quantities as small as one part per billion. The facility will be used to analyze and measure metals found in ore deposits all over New Brunswick and beyond, and will also support materials science research associated with a a number of industrial projects. If you would like to engage in a project with Dr. McFarlane, contact us.
NBIF: Gold in New Brunswick? How will this new technology and process add value to existing exploration methods?
Dr. McFarlane: There are significant gold and silver resources contained in the Bathurst ores that were previously overlooked, or shelved, due to the difficulty in measuring their abundance using traditional analysis techniques. This new instrumentation will allow us to turn a painstaking process that took several days into to one that takes just a few minutes.
NBIF: How does the technology work?
Them: The laser acts like an aerosol can, turning any material in its path into vapour, and the mass spectrometer is then used for analysis. You can put anything under the laser and it will vaporize it. It will allow for a whole new suite of problems we can answer for a number of industries looking to discover and isolate valuable elements in trace amounts.
NBIF: How important is your laboratory to the future of the New Brunswick mining industry?
Dr. McFarlane: This facility has the potential to breathe new life into New Brunswick’s mining industry. Having the most advanced facilities is imperative. NBIF’s role in providing the matching funds that national granting agencies require is critical to our success as a research and teaching institution, not to mention developing partnerships with those industries that will employ many of our graduates.