History of the OSTRF

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
  • By-products