Syncrude's south mine and upgrading facility at Mildred Lake (north of Fort McMurray) viewed from among seedlings growing in revegetated tailings sand.


Alberta Oil Sands

This section details the disturbance associated with Oil Sands mining in Northern Alberta. As a large industrial operation, the scale of revegetaion projects in the oil sands is well beyond what I am interested in working on. However, depending upon projects being considered, some of the individual challenges may be similar.

When one considers why the mines are located where they are, and the size of the area affected, then the implications for riparian systems become clear. Surface mines for Oil Sands are drawn to the valleys carved by rivers and streams because the ore is close to the surface in these areas making access relatively easy and economical. Reclamation of these sites will fall short of restoration (in our lifetimes) due to the extent of the disturbance. The purpose of such work is to mitigate the environmental impacts of the mining to the extent that it is possible.

The following list of Frequently Asked Questions links to those in the OSERN website I built in 2001.

What are oil sands?

How were the oil sands formed?

What is reclamation?

Where are oil sands found?

How much oil is in the oil sands?

Where are oil sands being mined?

Why are the surface mines located where they are?

What was present before mining started?

How big an area has been affected?

What will be the area be like once reclaimed?

How is reclamation progressing?

What kinds of disturbance does oil sands mining cause?