Thousands of miles from Peterborough, the town of Brumadinho Brazil and at least a dozen nearby rural communities received a life-improving boost this week in their struggle to survive the aftermath of a devastating mining disaster that buried homes, businesses, roads and farms with thousands of tonnes of mining waste and debris.
Headlines were generated around the world on January 25 when a tailings dam of the Corrego do Feijao iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil burst, leaving 182 people confirmed dead, at least 100 others missing. And, as the region works to recover and avert further tragedy, they are facing severe odds that, until this week, included a desperate lack of potable water in surrounding areas.
Through a remarkable collaboration of local Peterborough business Prima IP, the Brazilian Consulate of Toronto and the Brazil Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), Innovation Cluster – Peterborough Kawartha (Cluster) this week committed to send state-of-art water purification technology and equipment to the devastated region. The equipment is expected to produce fully drinkable water at a rate of nearly 10,000 litres a day.
“This is truly an amazing story and we are thrilled we could help make this happen,” says Cluster CEO Michael Skinner who explained how his friend, Cluster Knowledge Partner and Program Sponsor Marcelo Konig Sarkis, P.Eng., founder of Prima IP Intellectual Property Services and past president of the BCCC, reached out to the Innovation Cluster and the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto.
“I saw the reports of the dam breach and felt I had to do something. I thought of the water technology focus of the Cluster and reached out to Michael Skinner, the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto and the BCCC,” stated Mr. Sarkis.
“We just wanted to know how we could help in the wake of such a disaster and the Innovation Cluster’s access to water purification technology turned out to be the answer they were looking for,” adds Mr. Skinner noting that the Cluster’s Water Innovation Specialist John Gillis was integral in getting the equipment ready for transport and set up in Brazil.
The gravity fed, stand-alone water purification unit weighing less than 13 kilograms and standing about 1.5 meters tall, has a proven track record in some of the most forbidding places in the world.
Ademar Seabra, Deputy Consul of the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto remarked, “This is a great gesture from Canada. We are grateful to Michael Skinner and the Innovation Cluster, Marcelo Konig Sarkis, of Prima IP and the Brazil Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) of Canada for this initiative. Brazil and the people of the Brumadinho will not forget this gesture of International support from Peterborough,” he added.
Mr. Skinner and Mr. Gillis were invited to speak about the Peterborough initiative at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Conference this week in Toronto. To the applause of hundreds, Mr. Skinner described the events leading up to the deployment of the water purification equipment to Brazil and has since heard strong interest in applying the Canadian developed water purification technology in mining operations around the world.