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New approach to oil sands mining could eliminate tailings ponds

Canadian natural working on a new in-pit mining technology that would produce dry tailings while reducing CO2 emissions and costs.

According to a report that appeared on CBC News, Canadian Natural Resources Limited is working on a technology that could revolutionize oil sands mining.

The technology, called in-pit mining extraction, uses a multi-level mobile platform that separates bitumen from sand. The approach would eliminate the need for tailings ponds—allowing the land to be reclaimed immediately instead of years later. It also has the potential to reduce costs and reduce GHG emissions because oil sands don’t need to be trucked or sent via pipeline to a processing facility.

The idea was generated by a team of Canadian Natural employees and a project to test the technology has received a grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), which invests in promising technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ERA’s funding comes from the Alberta government’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund.

Canadian Natural has successfully completed a pilot test of the approach at its Horizon mine, and will participate in a $46 million demonstration project that will see if the technique can work at an industrial scale: using equipment that will process up to 500 tonnes of oil sands an hour. Read the full story on “‘Goose bumps’: CNRL develops oilsands mining idea that eliminates tailings ponds.”