Canadian Natural Resources is working on a project which could eliminate tailings ponds.
CNRL is in the early stages of their In-Pit Extraction Process, happening at their Horizon Mine, around 70 km north of Fort McMurray.
Bitumen is usually extracted from sand in a facility outside of the mining pit. This project, however, focuses on a mobile extraction facility that can work inside the mine.
In an email sent to Mix News, CNRL Spokesperson Julie Woo says this process will practically eliminate their tailings ponds.
“IPEP produces stackable tailings within the mine pit, greatly reducing the volume of fluid tailings and ultimately accelerating reclamation of oil sands mines.”
Instead of waiting until the mine’s life is finished they can start reclaiming the area right away.
The oil company also expects the project to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their bitumen production by 40 per cent.
“It is estimated that the technology will reduce production costs by roughly $2/bbl and substantially be reducing long-term tailings management costs and liabilities,” said Woo.
She notes they will also be able to expand their mining operations without constructing new central ore processing facilities.