Reclamation of Athabasca Oil Sand Sludge

by W. D. Carrier, III, Bromwell & Carrier Inc, Lakeland, FL, USA,
J. D. Scott, Bromwell & Carrier Inc, Lakeland, FL, USA,
W. H. Shaw, Bromwell & Carrier Inc, Lakeland, FL, USA,
M. B. Dusseault, Bromwell & Carrier Inc, Lakeland, FL, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Geotechnical Practice for Waste Disposal '87


The bulk of oil sand tailings (80 to 90%) consists of quartz sand, which is defined to be everything coarser than 44 microns. The other 10 to 20%, termed 'sludge', consists of fine silt, kaolinite, illite, smectite, and residue bitumen. The bitumen is typically 12% by dry weight of the sludge. In order to characterize the sludge and to prepare a detailed long-range reclamation plan, Syncrude Canada Ltd. , has conducted an intensive research program lasting several years at its Mildred Lake tailings pond. It has been found that large strain consolidation theory satisfactorily models the very slow dewatering process. Projections have been made that indicate that the sludge in the Mildred Lake tailings pond will achieve an average water content of about 143% (or solids content of nearly 43%) at the end of filling and the pond should have a design life of about 40 years. Alternatives for final reclamation of the sludge, either in the tailings pond or returned to the mine, are discussed in the paper.

Subject Headings: Sludge | Oils | Non-renewable energy | Sandy soils | Mine wastes | Consolidated soils | Waste disposal | Soil treatment | Canada

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