Fort Hills is an open-pit truck and shovel mine. Its life is expected to be approximately 50 years based on current mine plans.
Download the Fort Hills mining and extraction process (PDF, 1 pp., 579 KB)
Fort Hills’ open-pit mine plan has two main pits and a mine fleet capable of sustaining a production of 14,500 tonnes of oil sand per hour.
The mine delivers oil sands feed to two ore crushing plants, where oil sand material will be crushed and processed. Ore from the crushing plants is mixed with warm water and conditioned to create slurry, which is then transported to primary extraction via three hydrotransport lines.
In primary extraction, the conditioned oil sands slurry is fed to two trains of separation cells. The separation cells remove the bitumen from the sand, which yields a froth mixture of bitumen, water and clay.
Froth is then sent for further treatment in secondary extraction where it is mixed with solvent and sent through two stages of counter-current settlers to remove asphaltenes and excess sand and water. The bitumen is then sent to a solvent recovery unit to remove the solvent and prepare the bitumen for shipping. The final product is marketable bitumen.
The heavy asphaltenes, sand and remaining water from the settlers travel through a tailings solvent recovery unit (TSRU) to remove any remaining solvent and prepare the tailings for disposal in the out-of-pit-tailings area (OPTA).