Reclamation of industrial sites in Alberta's oil sands

Mining disturbance in Alberta's oil sands region has land impacts. The industry has to reclaim all disturbed land to a productive state. Mines are often in operation for decades and reclamation on these sites can take decades to complete. Alberta is working to enhance reclamation policies by starting reclamation work on a site before operations are complete and investing in reclamation technology and research.
FS-CES-Reclamation-Chart-DisturbedRegion.pngOil sands take up a 142,200 km2 area in north and eastern Alberta, but the surface mining area is limited to a 4,800 km2 region. 602 km2 of which has been disturbed by oil sands mining. (0.16 percent of Alberta's boreal forest.)

As of December 2008, 67 km2 of land has been reclaimed or is in active reclamation. The industry has planted more than 7.5 million trees. 80 percent of the oil sands are accessible by in situ methods only. This means that the bitumen is separated from the sand underground and pumped to the surface.

In situ's land disturbance is 10 to 15 percent of similar sized mining operation and produces no tailing ponds. Tailing ponds are a collection of liqui or wastewater drained or separated out during mining.

FS-CES-Reclamation-Chart-DisturbedStatus.pngReclamation has long term planning. Before any mining project begins, the industry must develop and receive approval for closure plans that outline how affected areas will be reclaimed. A reclamation security bond as a guarantee that reclamation work will take place has to be provided. The government held just over $800 million in reclamation security from the oil sands industry, for the year 2009. Without reclamation the problems can worsen.