Development of An Enhanced Oil Sands Fluid Tailings Generation Model

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Teymouri Nik, Leila
Oil Sands , Forecasting Tailings Model , Economic Evaluation , Fluid Fine Tailings
Bitumen extraction from surface-mined oil sands results in the production of large volumes of Fluid Fine Tailings (FFT). Through Directive 085, the Province of Alberta has signaled that oil sands operators must improve and accelerate the methods by which they deal with FFT production, storage and treatment. This thesis aims to develop an enhanced method to forecast FFT production based on specific ore characteristics. A mass relationship and mathematical model to modify the Forecasting Tailings Model (FTM) by using fines and clay boundaries, as the two main indicators in FFT accumulation, has been developed. The modified FTM has been applied on representative block model data from an operating oil sands mining venture. An attempt has been made to identify order-of-magnitude associated tailings treatment costs, and to improve financial performance by not processing materials that have ultimate ore processing and tailings storage and treatment costs in excess of the value of bitumen they produce. The results on the real case study show that there is a 53% reduction in total tailings accumulations over the mine life by selectively processing only lower tailings generating materials through eliminating 15% of total mined ore materials with higher potential of fluid fines inventory. This significant result will assess the impact of Directive 082 on mining project economic and environmental performance towards the sustainable development of mining projects.
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