COSIA’s Tailings Environmental Priority Area (EPA) is focused on improving the management of oil sands tailings. Tailings are the sand, silt, clay and water found naturally in oil sands that remain following the mining and bitumen extraction process.
Working with universities, government and research institutes, other companies and partners, the Tailings EPA is bringing together the shared experience, expertise and financial commitment of oil sands mining companies to find new technologies and solutions to tailings.
The Tailings EPA has identified key issues facing the industry and is working to address the following:
- the accumulation of fluid fine tailings (FFT) within tailings ponds through the development of new and improved tailings management technologies;
- treatment of process affected water, the water which remains once the FFT are removed; and
- accelerating the reclamation of the resulting tailings deposits so that they can be incorporated into the final reclaimed landscape.
COSIA and Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES) recently released a Tailings Technology Roadmap and Action Plan Project, a collaboration that also involved Alberta Energy, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board. This plan provides a comprehensive review of technologies that will help industry identify a suite of actions that will accelerate the development of new and improved commercial tailings treatment technologies.
COSIA is the overarching collaborative hub within which companies set priorities, drive and share innovation and accelerate the pace of environmental performance improvements.
COSIA’s Tailings Challenges
The Tailings Environmental Priority Area has identified COSIA Challenges to help mobilize the minds and resources of external stakeholders and global solutions providers and allow it to achieve its Aspiration to ‘transform tailings from waste into a resource that speeds land and water reclamation’.
To find out more about the purpose of COSIA Challenges and how you can help meet them, please click here.
Through joint industry projects (JIPs) the members of the Tailings EPA are developing new technologies and conducting research.
These JIPs will directly contribute to the achievement of the Tailings EPA’s Aspiration though the closure of the Gaps and the achievement of Opportunity Areas identified in the Tailings EPA’s planning framework.
COSIA, its members and its associate members have invested considerable resources in academic literature research, laboratory research and environmental studies relating to the production, storage and recycling of tailings in Canada's oil sands. You can explore the published findings on Tailings here.