By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 23 -- Suncor Energy has completed the reclamation of a tailings pond at its oil sands mining operation north of Fort McMurray, Alta., in what it says is the first such achievement in the oil sands industry.
Pond 1, covering 220 hectares, was the first tailings pond Suncor used when it began commercial operations at the mine in 1967. Suncor has renamed the area Wapisiw Lookout.
The company expects the land to become a productive forest and wetland. Plantings this year include 630,000 shrubs and trees.
Suncor decommissioned Pond 1 in 2006. It started reclamation by filling the pond with 30 million tonnes of reclaimed tailings sand. It then developed drainage systems and swales to manage water runoff. As part of subsequent landscaping, the company spread 1.2 million cu m of topsoil over the surface to a depth of 50 cm.
Suncor has received approval to use new technology that it says can cut reclamation time of tailings ponds by decades (OGJ Online, Oct. 23, 2009). It expects to spend more than $1 billion on the technology across its operations.