College of the North Atlantic introduces cutting-edge technology to mine new opportunities 

News release

New imaging technology supports mining industry research and growth 

July 20, 2021 · Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

When businesses, organizations, and post-secondary institutions work together to find innovative solutions to today’s challenges, they contribute to a stronger economy for all Canadians. That is why the Government of Canada together with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is helping College of the North Atlantic (CNA) advance game-changing technology that will position the region as a global leader in the mining industry.

Federal and provincial government support for mining industry growth

Today, Yvonne Jones, Member of Parliament for Labrador, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA, along with the Honourable Lisa Dempster, Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs, on behalf of the Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, announced a total contribution of $4.5 million to CNA to develop advanced drill core imaging technology. The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) and Agnico Eagle Mines also supported the project.

These investments supported the development of a state-of-the-art mobile Hyperspectral Scanning Unit (HSU), which is currently at the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador City conducting its first drill core scans. The HSU produces high-resolution drill core images that will give mining companies a better understanding of a region’s geology. The new technology will make drill core logging more accurate, improve exploration processes and increase the potential to discover new, lucrative mineral deposits.

Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to help Atlantic Canada innovate and support growth industries such as mining.


“The Government of Canada is committed to making strategic investments that support innovation, create jobs and grow the economy. Support for projects like this one with College of the North Atlantic will further establish Atlantic Canada as a leader in the mining industry, and contribute to a strong economic recovery.”

-   The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Launching the Hyperspectral Scanning Unit with College of the North Atlantic and other key partners is a significant milestone for the mining industry and the province. Mining creates thousands of jobs in rural communities, as well as economic spin-off for many of our small businesses. Having access to the latest technology will support increased exploration and provide more accurate data to help the mining industry grow for many years to come.”

- Yvonne Jones, Member of Parliament for Labrador

“Our contribution to this project confirms our government’s commitment to supporting innovation and sector growth opportunities. The presence of this new capability emphasizes the investment attractiveness and capacity of our province’s mineral exploration and mining sectors. This is an exciting day for innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador, as we help put Canada at the forefront of geological research in digitization and automation.”

- The Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology

“Collaboration such as this between industry, post-secondary institutions and government helps position our province as a globally competitive, top tier jurisdiction for mineral exploration and development, which is a priority for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Creating capacity in Labrador and other areas of the province to support an attractive investment landscape for the mineral exploration and mining sectors is crucial for regional economic growth.”

- The Honourable Lisa Dempster, Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs

“We recognize the significance that partnerships, such as this one with the federal and provincial governments and private industry, mean for the future economy in Newfoundland and Labrador. This state-of-the-art technology – one of the most advanced, high throughput hyperspectral drill core scanning units available globally – aligns perfectly with the college’s vision to further expand and develop its applied research and innovation arm so that we can assist industry in achieving positive, breakthrough results in the mining sector. We are also excited that our graduates will benefit from the training associated with the HSU that, in turn, will provide meaningful long-term benefits for the province’s future workforce and lead the way in the advancement of hyperspectral technology for the mining sector. We are proud to play a major role in this initiative.” 

- Liz Kidd, President and CEO, College of the North Atlantic

“Working with both the provincial and federal governments and College of the North Atlantic on a project such as this is an outstanding example of collaboration which continues to add value for the province’s mining industry. We look forward to testing this cutting-edge equipment at our operations in Labrador West to make IOC an even more efficient, competitive, and sustainable business for generations to come.”
- Chantal Lavoie, Chief Operating Officer, IOC

“Agnico Eagle is pleased to be part of this partnership and excited with the potential it represents for our industry. The mobile Hyperspectral Scanning Unit, developed by CNA, is breakthrough and innovative technology that will bring more robustness to data analysis, in a field traditionally based on human observation, while improving its consistency and quality. Ultimately, it will lead to increased exploration and potentially more discoveries, which is key for the future of our business.”
- Guy Gosselin, Senior Vice President of Exploration, Agnico Eagle Mines

Quick facts

  • College of the North Atlantic (CNA) has been working with industry partners and Photon Etc. on this multi-year research initiative to develop hyperspectral technology applications for the mining sector to enhance digital mineral characterization.

  • Each mineral has a unique light signature. The Hyperspectral Scanning Unit’s (HSU) ability to capture high-resolution imagery across the light spectrum using advanced short wave to long wave infrared cameras will provide advanced quantitative data on mineral presence in drill cores.

  • Drill core logging is a standard practice in the mining industry, performed throughout the life cycle of a mining project. Examining drill core is necessary to understand local geology and to develop models of ore formation that can guide exploration.

  • The HSU is a mobile scanning unit that can be deployed to core archive sites around the province and to mine sites for further drill core testing. It will investigate different metals, such as iron and gold deposits, and will establish a permanent digital record of drill core data.

  • Fifteen CNA interns, as well as graduate and undergraduate students from Memorial University of Newfoundland, will be trained on the full operation of the Hyperspectral Scanning Unit and the interpretation of data acquired.

  • The Government of Canada is investing $3 million in this project through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is contributing $1.5 million through the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology. The Iron Ore Company of Canada is also contributing $500,000 towards this project and Agnico Eagle Mines is contributing $100,000.


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Economic

Development and Official Languages

Paul McGrath

Director of Communications

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency


Eric Humber

Industry, Energy and Technology

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador


Michelle Barry

Communications Manager

College of the North Atlantic


Simon Letendre

Director, Media Relations – Canada and US

Rio Tinto


Natalie Frackleton

Manager, External Communications

Agnico Eagle Mines


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