The Alberta Energy Regulator is approving Syncrude’s Mildred Lake extension project.
In a decision posted on its website on July 16, AER notes the project is in the ‘public interest’ due to possible economic and employment benefits.
The extension consists of adding two additional open pit mine areas at Mildred Lake.
The east mine is designed to be next to the Athabasca River and the west mine close to the Mackay River – resulting in the need to build a bridge across the waterway.
The two mines are expected to produce around 738 million barrels of recoverable bitumen and extend the site’s life by 14 years.
Multiple Indigenous groups initially opposed the project including the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation. The MCFN and Syncrude eventually came to an agreement with the Indigenous group withdrawing their appeal.
The ACFN stated Syncrude had been mining in their territory for over four decades and hadn’t provided compensation for their environmental impacts.
As for some of the concerns raised, the AER is making Syncrude focus on ensuring the project’s impact on the neighbouring communities is minimal including initiatives for air quality and a mitigation plan for dust.
Syncrude must also submit an updated tailing management plan on or before January 31, 2023.