Finding ways to get fluid oil sands tailings to dewater more quickly and become suitable for reclaiming is critical to improving Suncor’s overall reclamation performance. Left unmanaged, these fluid tailings could take centuries to naturally dewater enough to be reclaimed.
All forms of mining – whether coal, gold, uranium or potash – produce tailings. Oil sands tailings are the remaining water, clay, silt and residual hydrocarbons left after the majority of hydrocarbons are extracted from the ore during our water-based bitumen extraction process. (In situ drilling oil sands bitumen does not produce tailings.)
Over the past six years, Suncor’s approach has allowed us to reclaim a tailings pond, Wapisiw Lookout, and make another trafficable through the use of coke capping technology. We are now converting a third tailings pond to a drying area with our TRO™ process.
Suncor is working with other oil sands producers to accelerate tailings management performance improvements.
Learn more in our 2015 Report on Sustainability: