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British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

An introduction to conservation and reclamation at Alberta's mineable oil sands Richens, Tanya


Alberta’s mineable oil sands have been discussed in every possible media forum and from various perspectives. This paper is intended to provide a balanced view of the conservation and reclamation issues and challenges faced in mineable oil sands development. A brief introduction to the mines, the provincial regulatory foundation, and some of the operational issues associated with oil sands mining will be provided. This paper will also define some of the key words and phrases relevant to conservation and reclamation in the mineable oil sands, provide summary statistics on land disturbed and reclaimed in the region (with a description of the challenges associated with reporting those data), and offer a general description of the process of conservation and reclamation planning and operations. Challenges specific to conservation and reclamation activities at the mineable oil sands such as long timeframes, large scale, regional planning and integration, competing land use goals, revegetation, byproduct management, tailings, and process-affected water will be outlined. Some of the successes and potential solutions to these challenges will also be discussed including reference to multi-stakeholder forums, research and monitoring, reclamation certification, and regulatory adaptive management.

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