The Alberta Energy Regulator is approving Imperial Oil’s tailing management plan for its Kearl Oil Sands mine north of Fort McMurray.
In their report released on Monday, the AER said the oil company’s application for the site was given the green light.
Multiple Indigenous groups were given a chance to give feedback including the Fort McMurray Métis, Fort McKay First Nation, and Mikisew Cree First Nation.
AER does, however, have some concerns with Imperial’s new fluid tailings profile.
The profile is based on oil giants conservative assumptions regarding treatment technology performance and tailings deposit performance.
The report reads that as operations progress the new fluid tailings profile may not represent the actual performance of Kearl’s treatment technology and tailings deposit.
The Energy Regulator also has issues with Imperial’s proposed water-capping technology.
Imperial is suggesting placing untreated fluid tailings in one tailings deposit and to cover that deposit with water – creating a “water-capped pit lake.”
They say they intend to make a final decision on whether to implement water-capping technology for Kearl no later than 2031.
This has also raised concerns among stakeholders who feel water-capping technology is subject to further assessment, research, and future policy
As part of the approval, Imperial must continue conversations with stakeholders and Indigenous groups about the tailings plan, water-capping technology, and give annual updates to AER.
The oil company will be required to submit an updated tailings management plan and updated fluid tailings profile by December 31, 2020.