Tailings Environmental Priority Area Update

Carbon Dioxide Amended Tailings

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is adding CO2 to its tailings lines to accelerate the pace at which tailings materials consolidate and reduce the size of tailings ponds.

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Alan Fair

Alan Fair
Director, Tailings EPA

In the last quarter we updated the Environmental Priority Area (EPA) Project Portfolio. Obviously there are some new projects for this year as well as a number of projects carried over from 2013.

Early in Q2 we held our second annual Tailings Project Review workshop. We will be finalizing our Multi-Year Plan and reviewing our Project Portfolio to ensure it is in alignment with our new 2014 priorities. We will be shifting our focus from developing and improving technologies aimed at dewatering Fluid Fine Tailings (FFT) and moving towards addressing the gaps related to the soft tailings opportunity area.

Soft tailings are the result of consolidating or dewatering FFT. Companies are working towards meeting requirements under the Alberta Energy Regulator’s Directive 74 legislation with the technologies that have been developed and are now being commercially implemented. Now it’s a matter of managing the consolidated or soft tailings that remain after the FFT have been dewatered.

The soft tailings will be used in the reclamation process as one of the types of tailings materials that will underlie about 60 per cent of the average reclaimed mine site. A capping layer of topsoil and peat will be placed on top of it so that trees and other plants can grow.

We are turning something that started out the consistency of runny mud into something that you can plant trees on and that moose can wander over. It’s a challenge, but one I’m confident our Multi-Year Plan and 2014 Project Portfolio will be able to deliver on.