In 2003, stakeholders in the oil sands industry recognized the need
to mitigate the vast amount of disturbed land and quantity of oil sands
tailings being stored. Limited progress with respect to improved
tailings management was seen as an impediment to the future success of
the oil sands industry. Dr. D. Sego and the University of Alberta’s
Geotechnical Centre understood that substantial fundamental tailings
research at a pilot scale using tailings manufactured to a research
specification held the key to sustainable and cost-effective utilization
of the oil sands resources.
Initially a meeting to discuss the
need for a focused effort related to tailings was held with H. Hamza, T.
Lord and D. Sego in attendance. The next meeting brought together a
broader group from industry and the concept of the Oil Sands Tailings
Research Facility (OSTRF) was developed. They envisioned that the OSTRF
would provide the innovative and novel research required to develop the
next generation of environmentally superior tailings disposal options.
They also desired that the facility supply early career, technically
competent staff for the oil sands industry.
From 2003 to 2009, the research themes for the OSTRF were based on the November 6, 2002, Workshop and include:
- Tailings Production: MFT, CT, Paste, Separators and Thickeners
- Engineered Tailings: Deposition, Dewatering (Natural Processes), Rapid Progressive Reclamation and Sustainability
- Water: Recovery, Reuse and Release
- Interdependency: Extraction- Tailings- Environment
- Energy: Recovery and GHG Reduction
- Instrumentation: Tailings process, Disposal and Reclamation
- Regional Impacts: Stakeholders, Landscapes and Certification