ALBERTA – The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) has a 100-year operational plan for the design and creation of 29 proposed end pit lakes (EPL) as oil sands mines exhaust their resources. CEMA has forwarded the document, End Pit Lakes guidance Document, to the Alberta government.
An oil sands EPL is defined as …”an engineered water body, located below grade in an oil sands post-mining pit. It may contain oil sands by-product material and will receive surface and groundwater from surrounding reclaimed and undisturbed landscapes. EPLs will be permanent features in the final reclaimed landscape, discharging water to the downstream environment.”
Currently there are no EPLs in northern Alberta, but CEMA is providing information, direction and advice for their eventual creation. Government agencies, Aboriginal and non-governmental organizations as well as industry participated in creating the document, but CEMA is quick to say the views of all potential stakeholders are not represented.
“Reclamation of the pit that remains at the end of a mine's life, and its transformation into a sustainable lakes, is a developing technology,” noted CEMA. “As a result, industry can draw on experiences from pit lakes created in other mining industries along with current research and literature reviews conducted within the region. Such experiences include Syncrude Canada's Base Mine Lake (BML) demonstration lake and test wetlands and CEMA's in-lake dynamics and water quality modeling and geotechnical stability analysis of EPL shorelines. The oil sands can also draw on experience from pit lakes created by other industries, such as Teck Coal's Sphinx Lake in Sparwood, British Columbia.”
CEMA says it neither supports nor opposes the creation of EPLs. The EPL document may be viewed at CEMAonline.ca.