Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Planning, construction and operational challenges of Suncor’s 1st sand dump Ali, Zulfiqar


In 2009, Suncor Energy Inc.’s Oil Sands operation in Fort McMurray, AB, began the process of changing to a new technology for the treatment of the tailings streams coming from their water-based extraction process. This new treatment, known collectively as Tailings Reduction Operations (TRO™), is based on two primary technologies: Mature fine tailings (MFT) drying, and the construction of elevated and draining sand dumps. Most of the public information on TRO™ has been focused on the MFT drying components, with less attention paid to the technically simpler but operationally complex systems required to build stacks of tailings sand contained within sand dykes at the rates required to sustain production. This paper discusses the planning and operational challenges of constructing the sand dump rising at the rate of 20 meters per year while maintaining continuous oil sands production and structural integrity of the dump. [All papers were considered for technical and language appropriateness by the organizing committee.]

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