Canadian Mining Journal


OIL SANDS: Suncor gets okay to begin new tailings management system

Suncor’s Tailings reduction operations consist of three parts: water storage (right), sand dumps (centre right) and dedicated disposal areas (centre left). (Image: Suncor Energy)

ALBERTA – Suncor Energy said on Oct. 25 that it has received approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator for its base plant tailings directive application and related Millennium operational amendment application.

Suncor can now work  on implementing its tailings management plan aimed at fluid tails, to decrease tailings inventory and reduces the overall number of ponds at the site. The company’s Tailings Reduction Operations has three parts: a water storage system, sand dumps, and dedicated disposal areas. Tails – containing clay slimes – are mixed with flocculants and sprayed in very shallow layers over a an area with a shallow slope. The clay particles collect on the flocculants and fall to the ground while clean water runs off to a ditch at the bottom of the slope. The clean water is then pumped back to the water storage area to be recycled. At the end of the season, the solidified tails are moved to a deposition area, and eventually the disposal area will be reclaimed.

The approval for the changes was given after months of communication with indigenous communities, stakeholders and the regulatory to clarify and provide additional information about the plan.

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