SAULT STE. MARIE -- The mining firm Kirkland Lake Gold is putting half a million dollars into Northern College's campus.

Officials with the mining firm are calling it an investment in the future.

"The benefit to students is really becoming experts in their field by really developing leading-edge technology. The industry partner also benefits because whatever technology we develop or adapt for their purpose becomes theirs to own and use," said Amy McKillip, Northern College Applied Research Department.

McKillip says the planned hub will be a 24,000 square foot project, featuring eight shops focused on researching and testing new technologies in areas like carpentry, mining and manufacturing.

Kirkland Lake Gold adds its interest is in developing more battery-powered technology and believes the new facility will provide the right environment to do that.

"We can have feedback from the people that are actually working at the mines, using the equipment and be able to come up with an idea, test it, bring it back and apply it in the actual workplace, see whether it makes sense, whether it works and how we can refine it to be more effective," explained Tony Makuch, Kirkland Lake Gold President & CEO.

Northern College says alternative energy will be a key focus for the facility, as will green technologies like solar, wind and geothermal power.

Officials say that once open, the Innovation Hub will be able to adapt to new equipment as it emerges, allowing students to tinker with the tech themselves.

The hub is expected to be operational by mid-2020.