Tailings, a by-product of oil sands mining operations, are transported to the tailings pond for storage and recovery of process water. The coarse solids in tailings settle rapidly and separate from the water. The fine solids however, remain in suspension creating a layer known as Mature Fine Tailings which take centuries to solidify.

Tailings management remains one of the most difficult environmental challenges for the oil sands mining sector. The recent Energy Resources Conservation Board’s Directive 074 requires operators to reduce tailings volume by capturing or extracting the fine particles from the waste water.

With our expertise in the field of Tailings Management, we help our clients to overcome these challenges. We offer variety of services from tailings hydraulics design to evolution of Tailings Management technologies. We compare the economics of new technologies to ensure our client`s investment in these areas is effective.

Tailings Management

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An Ore Preparation Plant (OPP) consists of a dry side and a wet side. The mined oil sands ore is crushed on the dry side and transferred by conveyors to the slurry preparation area on the wet side, where it is mixed with hot water and caustic and fed to the Hydrotransport System.

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The Hydrotransport System transfers oil sands slurry from the OPP to the Extraction Plant. It also serves as process equipment by helping to ablate the oil sands and liberate the bitumen. Designing a Hydrotransport pipeline is challenging, as the pipeline operating condition varies with the quantity and quality of the mined ore and the condition of the hot process water.

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The Extraction Plant separates the oil sands slurry from the Hydrotransport pipelines into three streams: froth, fine tailings and coarse tailings. The plant consists of three separation units: the Primary Separation Cell, Flotation Circuit and De-aerator. Separation of froth from fines and sands is a complicated process involving fundamental concepts from gravity separation to surface sciences.

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