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Who we are

Our mission is to conduct and promote cutting-edge, field-based, collaborative research on mineral deposits and their environments, and to educate and train highly qualified personnel (HQP) for careers in the minerals industry, academia or government.

MERC is a semi-autonomous research centre at Laurentian University (LU) that was established by the LU Senate in 1997. It is affiliated with the Harquail School of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University and is one of seven mining-related research centres and departments at Laurentian that form an integral part of the Goodman School of Mines.

MERC comprises an internationally recognized group of researchers from academia, industry and government. MERC has >75 faculty, research scientists, and graduate students working on mineral deposits, Precambrian geology, and exploration methodology and targeting, all housed within offices and labs of the Willet Green Miller Centre on the Laurentian University campus. MERC is governed by an Advisory Board comprised of industry, government and academic leaders. 

For more information about MERC, please contact the MERC Director Dr. Ross Sherlock or Associate Director Dr. John Ayer.


MERC Strategic Plan

Click here to download the MERC Strategic Plan (.pdf)


Global Research Projects

Research projects at MERC are supported by Canadian and international mining companies, the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada, provincial and territorial geological surveys and other agencies. The research projects are global, and address fundamental ore deposit problems and technology and method development that aid exploration in Precambrian and younger terrains.


MERC most recently has been leading project Metal Earth which is a Canadian $104 million applied R&D program led at Laurentian University. 

With funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and federal/provincial/industry partners, this initiative will be a strategic consortium of outstanding Canadian researchers from academia and allied Canadian and international research centres, government, and industry. Metal Earth will transform our understanding of the genesis of base and precious metal deposits during Earth’s evolution. It will make Canada a world leader in metal endowment research and world-class innovator through open source delivery of new knowledge and the implementation of new technology. To learn more about opportunities with Metal Earth, visit the Metal Earth page here. 


MERC researchers attract more than $2m in research funding annually. MERC played an major role in several major CAMIRO and NSERC-CRD projects, including:

  • Cape Smith Ni-Cu-(PGE) (1994-1996)
  • Thompson Ni-Cu-(PGE) (1997-2001)
  • Ontario PGE (2001-2005)
  • Flin Flon VMS (2004-present)
  • Several major government/industry programs, including Discover Abitibi (2001-2005) and Targeted Geoscience Initiative (1998-present).

MERC also managed the very successful $8m Ontario Mineral Exploration Technology Program (2001-2005) for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and served as the Secretariat for the CMIC Exploration Footprints Program (2013-2019).

Researchers at MERC and the Harquail School of Earth Sciences are presently working in most Canadian Provinces/Territories, Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Peru, and Russia. Large scale thematic projects have recently initiated on gold mineralization in the Abitibi Subprovince and low sulfide PGE mineralization in the Sudbury Igneous Complex Footwall.


Our Strengths

MERC is recognized as a centre of excellence in magmatic Ni-Cu-(PGE) deposits and Precambrian geology with major strengths in Cu-Zn-(Au)-(Ag) VMS deposits, ‘orogenic’ lode Au deposits, rare-metal pegmatites, MVT Pb-Zn deposits, and sediment-hosted Au and U deposits.


The Largest Concentration of Ore Deposit Geology Faculty in Canada

Faculty at the Harquail School of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University and MERC includes four internationally-recognized economic geologist, nine geologists with specialties in ancillary areas who regularly and in some cases exclusively apply their work to ore deposits, and four part-time faculty who also work on ore deposits, the largest concentration of ore deposit geology faculty in Canada by a wide margin. Three of our faculty hold federally- established Research Chairs in Mineral Exploration, Exploration Geophysics, and Precambrian Geology, and many have received national and international awards for excellence in teaching and/or research. Our students are equally strong, many holding prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell, NSERC Postgraduate M/D, and NSERC Industry Postgraduate Scholarships, and Society of Economic Geologists fellowships and scholarships.


Training & Education 

MERC and the Harquail School of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University, provide modular courses, short courses and workshops designed for industry professionals and graduate students from across Canada and globally.