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$38.9M awarded to establish new international underground research facility


Ottawa, ON December 1, 2003 The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) says it is providing C$38.9 million to create a major new international facility for underground science called SNOLAB. The facility, which will feature the deepest underground laboratory in the world, will transform the already renowned Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment into a permanent, world-class research facility.

SNOLAB will conduct experiments that build on the success of the original SNO project. The funding will cover the cost of excavation of a new underground experimental cavern, surface support, new labs at Laurentian University, experimental equipment as well as operational support for the next five years.

This project will bring together a consortium of researchers from six Canadian universities, including Carleton University, Laurentian University, Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Guelph, and the Universit de Montral. It will also link with research partners from around the world. The administrative centre will be located at Carleton University where the project leader, Dr David Sinclair, is a professor of physics (College of Natural Sciences at Carleton University).

The new facility will use the expertise developed for the renowned SNO experiment to create a huge, ultra-clean environment two kilometres underground in Inco’s Creighton Mine near Sudbury. The 32,000 square-foot space will house one large experimental hall (that may be subdivided into two labs each the size of a five-storey building). There will also be rooms housing smaller experiments and supporting facilities. Construction is expected to be completed by 2007. Experiments could commence in three years.

The new facility will also be a training centre. Over a 10-year period, it is expected that a total of 500 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, engineers, technicians, and other qualified personnel will be trained at the new facility and prepare them to be the future leaders in science and technology.

This announcement follows an earlier funding announcement made by the Ontario government in August. The Ontario government is providing $9.3 million to support the construction of above-ground structures at the facility, including 20,000 square feet of laboratory space, workshops, offices and meetings rooms.