Improving the knowledge and understanding of pit lakes.

Members are assessing the most effective means of closing knowledge and technology gaps related to the management of pit lakes.

Pit lakes are reclamation features common to virtually every mine site in the world. In oil sands mines several holes or ‘pits’ are dug one after the other in order to extract the bitumen. In many cases, once the first pit is dug, it is filled using tailings material from the next pit excavated. However at the end of a mine’s life there are no materials available to re-fill the last pit. It is this feature that is flooded to create a pit lake. The additional research and understanding derived from this work will help ensure the oil sands pit lakes currently planned will evolve into healthy aquatic ecosystems. Key projects include:

  1. Base Mine Lake (Syncrude contributed technology with ongoing support from Suncor, Shell, Teck, CNRL, Total and Imperial)
    This is the sector’s first full-scale demonstration pit lake.
  2. Demonstration Pit Lake facility (Shell with Canadian Natural, Imperial, Suncor, Syncrude, Total and Teck)
    This is a proposed pilot-scale research and demonstration facility that would complement the Base Mine Lake project.