Finding ways to get fluid 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 sand, water, clay, silt and residual hydrocarbons left after the majority of hydrocarbons are extracted from the ore during our water-based bitumen extraction process. Fluid tailings are formed from the portion of clay that does not become trapped in the trafficable tailings sand. (In situ drilling oil sands bitumen does not produce tailings.)
Over the past several years, Suncor’s holistic TRO™ approach has allowed us to reclaim a tailings pond, Wapisiw Lookout, make another one trafficable through the use of coke capping technology and now we are converting a third tailings pond to a fluid tailings treatment area.
Suncor is working with other oil sands producers to accelerate tailings management improvements.
Tailings Management Framework
Suncor submitted an updated tailings management plan that enhances the current tailings management approach at the company’s Oil Sands Base Plant and aligns with the Government of Alberta’s Tailings Management Framework. The plan incorporates what we’ve learned through our implementation of TRO™ and from members of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).
Suncor is engaging with key stakeholders and Aboriginal communities on our new approach to tailings management, which aligns with the principles set out by the Government of Alberta.
Learn more in our Report on Sustainability:
™Trademark of Suncor Energy Inc.