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Innovative and productive

Engineering professor receives national award for mining research

Research

By Jackey Locke

An engineering professor has received national recognition for his “game-changing” research in the mining industry.

Man with glasses wearing dark suit and tie smiles at the camera.
Dr. Stephen Butt
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Stephen Butt is the recipient of the 2022 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) Award in Design and Industrial Practice.

The award, which is sponsored by the Toronto Metropolitan University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, is presented for innovative design or production activities accomplished in Canada.

“Much of my academic career has been in collaboration with industry to address specific problems and technology objectives and can be described as interdisciplinary often spanning several engineering and science fields,” said Dr. Butt. “I am honoured that my colleagues at Memorial and in industry nominated me for this award and I am appreciative of the CSChE for recognizing my contributions.”

Dr. Syed Imtiaz is the head of process engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. He wrote Dr. Butt’s nomination letter along with industry representatives, Dustin Angelo, president and CEO of Novamera Inc., and John O’Keefe, senior drilling engineer at Schlumberger.

“Prof. Butt is one of the rare multidimensional researchers who works on all stages of technology development,” said Dr. Imtiaz. “His research on vibration-assisted drilling starts with very fundamental theories, which he proved through analytical methods and mathematical simulation models. His research on narrow vein drilling has been a game-changer in the mining industry.”

Mr. Angelo says Dr. Butt has also been instrumental in the initial research and development of sustainable mining by drilling (SMD) and continues to play a key role at the commercialization stage.

SMD has a small environmental footprint and significantly reduced costs, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per ton of ore produced as compared to conventional mining methods.

“Unequivocally, he has made a significant contribution to the SMD technology, which cannot be overlooked,” wrote Mr. Angelo. “Dr. Butt should be recognized for his role in bringing to market a transformative technology for sustainable mining for the future.”

Mr. O’Keefe says that SMD technology has the potential to positively transform the mining industry.

“For as long as I have known [Dr. Butt], he has been actively engaged with industry to develop key technologies and his work with Anaconda Mining and Novamera to develop SMD is a good example of this work.”

Long list of accolades

Dr. Butt is a geological engineer. His keen interest in the development of natural resources is evident through his teaching, research and industry collaboration.

He joined Memorial University as an engineering professor in 2006, and is cross-appointed with the Faculty of Science’s Department of Earth Sciences.

His teaching and research focuses on technology development and optimization, reducing the environmental footprint and training highly qualified personnel and industry professionals.

Dr. Butt has generated more than $6.5 million in research funding as a principal investigator and another $13.5 million as a co-investigator. He has supervised approximately 110 highly qualified personnel, published more than 200 articles and proceedings and holds several patents with others in progress.

He was the Mining Program Chair at Dalhousie University from 2000-06. At Memorial he was acting associate dean (graduate studies) from 2008-10 and interim discipline chair of process engineering from 2013-14. He is currently an associate mining engineer with MineTech International in Halifax, N.S.

“Congratulations to Dr. Butt on receiving this prestigious award from the Chemical Institute of Canada,” said Dr. Octavia Dobre, interim dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “This recognition is truly well deserved. We are proud of the achievements of our faculty members, which represent clear evidence of the exceptional research and training environment at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.”

Dr. Butt will be presented with the award at the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference from Oct. 23-26 in Vancouver, B.C., where he will present an award lecture.


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