Oil Sands Mines and Processing Plants


Oil Sands Mines and Processing Plants

Additional Regulatory Requirements
Requirements for conservation and reclamation ensure that fluid tailings are reclaimed progressively to a sustainable ecosystem, as required by the Tailings Management Framework.

Oil sands mines and oil sands processing plants are subject to the Mine Financial Security Program to manage liabilities throughout the life cycle of the mine.

Operational Considerations
The terms and conditions of the EPEA approval require approval holders to submit several plans and reports to guide progressive reclamation throughout the life of the mine. Depending on the stage of development, these operational requirements could include the following:

  • research
  • life-of-mine closure plans
  • mine reclamation plans
  • annual reclamation material salvage and placement plans
  • annual reclamation progress tracking reports

Closure Processes
Progressive reclamation occurs throughout the life of the mine with reclamation being undertaken during and following construction, development, and ongoing operations.

Within six months of the oil sands processing plant ceasing operation, the approval holder must apply for an amendment to its EPEA approval for decommissioning and reclamation. The terms and conditions of an amended EPEA approval provide further site-specific requirements for decommissioning and reclaiming.

When reclamation for a mining area is complete and all the terms and conditions of the EPEA approval have been met, including achieving the approved reclamation outcome, the approval holder must apply for a reclamation certificate from the AER.

Reclamation should be conducted in a timely manner to minimize environmental and fiscal liabilities. The AER recommends that operators start decommissioning and reclamation activities for an area immediately after operations have ceased or when the disturbed land is no longer required for operations.

For further information on the reclamation certificate application process for enhanced recovery in situ oil sands or heavy oil processing plants and oil production sites see the application content requirements and the frequently asked questions for EPEA-approved facilities.