New requirements issued by the Alberta Energy Regulator target oil sands tailings ponds, requiring performance reporting and ensuring progressive reclamation. The phased approach in the newly issued Directive 085: Fluid Tailings Management for Oil Sands Mining Projects supports the Government of Alberta’s Tailings Management Framework.
“These new requirements will ultimately remove tailings from the landscape of Alberta,” said Jim Ellis, CEO of the Alberta Energy Regulator. “We recognize that stakeholders expect more involvement in regulatory development than ever before – for matters that affect them, their communities, and the environment. That’s why these new requirements were developed using the broadest consultation in our history.”
The AER worked extensively with a multistakeholder committee to build tailings requirements that oil sands operators in this province must follow. The committee, which included representation from oil sands mining operators, First Nations, Métis communities, the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and environmental organizations, helped the AER to create requirements that will address tailings growth and reclamation today and in the years ahead. The new requirements call for all fluid tailings to be ready to reclaim within 10 years of the end of a mine’s life.
“These new rules focus on outcomes and industry accountability to address environmental effects of tailings and management of new and existing tailings through progressive reclamation, providing regulatory clarity and certainty to industry and Albertans,” said Ellis.
A second phase of the directive, which will be developed once applications are submitted by industry, will ensure strict surveillance and compliance requirements.
The new directive, a summary of all the feedback received, plus the AER’s response are available on aer.ca.
The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.