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Mining the final frontier: symposium.

A closer relationship between the space and mining sectors will be forged at the second annual Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium in Sudbury from June 5 to 8.

To be held at the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) adjoining Cambrian College, the symposium will feature plenary speakers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and local mining companies, such as Inco.

NASA's Gerald Sanders, developer of a roadmap for space mining research and development, will deliver a speech entitled Planetary Exploration: The New Mining Frontier. He will examine the "traditional" roles of planetary exploration and terrestrial mining with a focus on commonalties and cross-pollination potential.

The CSA's Dr. Jean-Claude Piedboeuf will give a presentation on Canada's role in space mining.

Fred Standford, Inco's general manager of central maintenance and engineering, along with NorandaFalconbridge's John Vary, manager of mine technical services, will address technology challenges and research and development priorities for the mining industry.

The three major themes will be:

1. Solid planetology as it relates to the science and technologies of exploring the earth, its moon, other planets or planetary bodies for the purpose of conducting science or resource extraction potential;

2. Resource extraction and utilization as it relates to the sciences and technologies involved with the extraction of valuable resources from the Earth, its moon and other planetary bodies for the purposes of greater understanding, economic activity, or logistics and support; and

3. Commercialization as it relates to the aspects of resource extraction within which economic activity can be realized.

Canada has achieved global leader status within the space robotics and the mining technology sectors. Sudbury is home to the world's largest concentration of mining technology expertise where companies have been mining an impact crater for more than 100 years.

NORCAT has played a key role in building bridges between the two industries and has worked with Sudbury-based mining supplier Electric Vehicle Controllers Ltd. (EVC) to build space drill prototypes for future Mars and moon landings. The CanaDrill is a unique device that combines mining and robotic technology to aid in the exploration of microgravity terrains.

NORCAT will unveil a prototype bucket wheel extractor designed to mine lunar soil. Other items on display will be autonomous mobile robotic rovers, hi-tech drones used for military target acquisition and a cooling suit developed for the United States space program. On June 6, plenary sessions and technology demonstrations will be held at the NORCAT experimental mine in Onaping, 50 kilometres north of Sudbury. The final two days will be devoted to technical sessions.

The Discovery Channel will be filming interviews and technology demonstrations for a six-part series on space exploration.
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Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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