A COSIA Newsletter


Issue 03 - December 2014

Tailings Environmental Priority Area Update

Tailings Centrifugation

Shell is removing water from mature fine tailings by building on Syncrude’s contributed centrifuge technology.

View Case Study

Jonathan Matthews

Jonathan Matthews
Director, Tailings EPA

This month COSIA said farewell to former Tailings Director Alan Fair who is retiring this month after a more than 30 year career in oil sands. We are also pleased to welcome Jonathan Matthews to the team as new Director of the Tailings Environmental Priority Area (EPA).

In addition to the change in leadership the Tailings EPA has had an exciting and productive year. With the help of Acting Tailings Director Phil Ruban, who has been overseeing the Tailings EPA during the transition from Alan to Jonathan, in 2014, Tailings members began 14 new projects and completed 20 projects.

The Tailings EPA will start 2015 with 42 active projects. That’s in addition to the over 100 projects completed by the member companies and the 117 technologies shared since the Tailings EPA’s inception.

About Alan

Alan started his career in oil sands at Syncrude in 1979, one year after graduating from the University of British Columbia with a B.Sc. in Geological Engineering. Two years after graduating he was managing the structure of Syncrude’s tailings facilities. A position that put him right at the heart of the oil sands tailings management effort.

“I started my career just as the industry was discovering that oil sands tailings were not going to behave the way other mine tailings did,” says Alan. “Industry realized the need to work together to find solutions to consolidating tailings very early on.”

Alan was involved in a number of collaborative efforts including the Fine Tails Fundamentals Consortium (FTFC) in the 1980s, which he helped set up. The FTFC eventually became part of the Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development (CONRAD), which Alan chaired for three years. His work in collaborative innovation efforts eventually led to the founding of the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (OSTC) in 2010, which he chaired until 2012, when it was rolled into the COSIA Tailings EPA.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time in oil sands,” Alan says. “I’m now looking forward to having time to focus on all the other things I love.”

Good luck Alan, we’ll miss you!

Learn more about Alan

About Jonathan

Jonathan graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.A. and M.Sc. in Geological Engineering. Upon graduation he and his wife, moved to Fort McMurray to work for Syncrude’s mining operations in 1991, where he gained operations experience in tailings management.

In 1997 Jonathan and his family left McMurray for Edmonton to work in Syncrude’s Research Facility where he worked on projects related to oil sands tailings and extraction until 2006. During his time in Edmonton, he worked with a number of external organizations including the Mining Association of Canada on a national tailings guidelines initiative.

From there, Jonathan moved to Shell where he was involved in a number of collaborative initiatives including the establishment of the OSTC.

Jonathan took a “sabbatical” from oil sands mining in 2011 to lead Statoil’s Heavy Oil Technology Development Centre for the company’s in situ oil sands operations.

Now that he is settled here at COSIA, Jonathan is looking forward to working with the Tailings EPA steering committee as well as external industry players, universities and research organizations, to collaboratively go after the big opportunities within the EPA. For him, that’s driving environmental improvement by improving technology performance at a commercial scale.

Learn more about Jonathan

Categories: Director Message Tailings