A new Innovation Hub being developed at Northern College has received a big boost from one of the school’s key partners in industry. Kirkland Lake Gold contributed $500,000 to the hub, located at the Timmins Campus, on Friday, Dec. 20.
The new 24,000-square-foot research facility is scheduled to open in the spring.
Programs provided at the Innovation Hub will not only benefit students but industries looking for skilled workers and technological advances.
“This really is a mining-centric research and development. It is meant for students, but also for the benefit of industry,” said Amy McKillip, manager of applied research, entrepreneurship and innovation for Northern College. “It’s a win-win situation. This is a space that’s going to see students and industry collaborating to develop brand new technology or to adapt new technology for a mining fit.”
“This is something we are very excited about. It does have a spring opening, so we will be under construction all winter and going into spring.”
The facility will feature eight shops in the areas of carpentry, mining exploration, welding, manufacturing, prototyping, alternate energy and mining simulation.
“We have an alternate energy lab, which is where a lot of future mining is going,” McKillip said. “This alternate energy lab will have battery, wind, solar and geothermal technologies that we will be teaching our students and, of course, doing applied research on how we can adapt these technologies to the businesses surrounding Timmins.”
The Innovation Hub at the campus fits in ideally with current and future plans for mining leaders such as Kirkland Lake Gold.
“We’re not really making a donation here, we’re making an investment,” said Tony Makuch, president and CEO of Kirkland Lake Gold. “We’re planning to be mining gold … for more many, many years. To do that, we need to be embracing technology and changing. This is an investment by Kirkland Lake Gold into the future of where we can take things.”
He was particularly excited about the development of an alternative energy shop.
“The (KL Gold owned) Macassa Mine is really the only mine in Ontario and Canada where all its production facilities are powered with battery-operated equipment,” Makuch said. “We had to wait for the industry to catch up. And for the supply industry to catch up, we would have to wait a number of years. We decided we’ll be the guinea pigs. We’ll take the prototypes.”
“The success we’ve had at Macassa growing from 150,000 ounces of production in 2015 to close to 250,000 ounces this year … and all the things were going to do there, it’s only going to come from the people and ideas right here in our backyard, or front yard, of Northeastern Ontario.”
The space used for the Hub became available when facilities moved into the college’s Integrated Emergency Services Complex.
“Northern College is constantly working to position itself as a valuable resource for our campus communities and catchment region,” said Dr. Fred Gibbons, Northern College president and CEO. “Industry support from companies in the area allows Northern College to continue to grow as a multi-faceted institution with the kind of firm footing that allows us to provide the highest quality education and the industry ties that produce work-ready graduates in their chosen fields.”