VANCOUVER — Two Vancouver-based universities have been selected to spearhead the establishment of the upcoming Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development. The University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) were awarded a $25 million grant by the Federal government through the Canadian International Development Agency on Nov. 23.
The announcement was made in Toronto by International Cooperation Minister, Julian Fantino, who outlined the Harper government's strategy to ensure mining operations work with local communities to share benefits from major developmental projects.
“The new institute will build on Canadian leadership in the management of natural resources in developing countries, which is critically important for sustainable economic growth,” Fantino said in a prepared statement. “The University of British Columbia, leading the coalition, will now establish and operate a world-class institute that will deliver knowledge on proven regulation and oversight to help resource-rich developing countries create jobs and economic growth.”
The initiative was originally announced in Oct. 2011 when the Harper government solicited proposals from prospective institutions, which were "encouraged to seek support from strategic partners, such as the private sector and non-governmental organizations, to provide cash and in-kind support to ensure the long-term success of the institute." A total of five proposals were received.
In its statement UBC cited $1 trillion in oil and minerals exports from Africa, Asia, and Central American in 2008, stating that Vancouver was a hub for corporate head quarters and a launching point for global exploration. UBC's research and education in the natural resource sector reaches back nearly 100 years, and the university is an industry leader through the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering.
SFU offers Canada's longest-standing Executive Master's in Business Administration program for sustainable mining through its Beedie School of Business, as well as hosts the Responsible Minerals Sector Initiative.
“Universities have – and must continue to play – an integral role in bringing forth new knowledge. UBC and SFU are uniquely positioned to lead in sharing and applying research and best practices in extractive industries to make indelible impacts,” commented UBC president Stephen Toope.
The Federal government reported the selection following what it deemed a "rigorous assessment process" that included an independent advisory panel compromised of public and private industry professionals. The new coalition will be tasked with "[establishing] a world-class institute to deliver knowledge and technical assistance aimed at helping resource-rich developing countries manage their natural resources responsibly and transparently."
The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC), which is a strategic partner in the initiative, released its own statement following the announcement. AME BC president Michael McPhie stated that the decision was a strong recognition of UBC and SFU as highly respected industry leaders that could influence practices and innovations in the mineral exploration and development industries.
“We are very proud to have a deep and enduring partnership with both schools. As a strategic partner with SFU and UBC providing funding and in-kind resources, AME BC looks forward to working with them as they establish this new institute which will develop and promote best practices in environmentally and socially responsible natural resource development globally,” McPhie concluded.
The two British Columbian universities will work in tandem with Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, with an immediate objective involving the authoring of industry-specific educational programs available in Canada and globally, in addition to hosting two conferences focusing on Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
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