Oil sands reclamation: A study integrating mining, tailings disposal and reclamation. Volume I - Text

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  • The document provides a comprehensive review of the technical problems facing future oil sands developments and suggests options which will be helpful in formulating oil sands mining, tailings disposal and reclamation plans. By providing in-depth cost analysis for many of the activities occurring in an oil sands mining operation, the sensitivity of these activities with respect to reclamation and overall project economics can be assessed. The impact of actions taken to reduce undesirable environmental effects can be measured both biophysically and economically. However, the determination of \"added benefit\" and \"associated cost\" is more complex, with many subjective elements. This study attempts to define not only the methods required to achieve various degrees of reclamation in the Athabasca oil sands, but also to show how the benefits and costs of such reclamation can be objectively measured. Objectives of the study are listed below: • To illustrate the application of recommendations respecting development and reclamation by designing \"model operations\" for three oil sands mines delineated by actual field drilling data, with process capacities of 60,000 barrels per calendar day (BPCD), 120,000 BPCD, and 240,000 BPCD, respectively, after extraction and upgrading losses. • To examine mining and reclamation schemes in detail within the context of \"minimum\", \"improved\", and \"enhanced\" levels of reclamation; each representing operations using \"wet\", \"dewatered\", and \"dry\" tailings systems, respectively, in order of decreasing reclamation difficulty. • To determine the additional materials handling costs incurred in oil sands mines when selected reclamation alternatives are implemented, and to perform a cost-benefit analysis using rational economic units such as dollars, hectares, cubic metres, etc. per barrel of synthetic crude oil produced. • To define the technical limitations of materials handling and overall mine planning with respect to creating or carrying out reclamation options. • To suggest typical materials handling activities and their comparative merits in oil sands mine reclamation. • To determine whether the choice of major mining equipment substantially affects the success of reclamation efforts. • To recommend the specific techniques that must be incorporated into an operator's mining methods to ensure successful reclamation. • To compare the advantages and disadvantages of oil sands mines using the traditional \"wet\" tailings pond with those using conceptual \"dewatered\" or \"dry\" tailings disposal systems. • To develop an understanding of the major factors that dictate the reclamation potential of oil sands mines, and to describe the impact of these factors on oil sands development regionally. • To estimate the direct energy consumption of an oil sands mine that incorporates recommended reclamation objectives. • To apply the combined experiences of Techman Ltd. - Rheinbraun-Consulting GmbH, oil sands mine operators, and other concerned investigators, to the problem of reclaiming oil sands mines in Alberta. • To prepare guidelines defining the information required in the preparation of an oil sands mine development and reclamation plan.

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