Forests and Biodiversity

Suncor milestone ‘unbelievable accomplishment’

Fort McMurray — Suncor Energy marked an industry milestone Thursday when it became the first oilsands company to complete the surface reclamation of a tailings pond at its plant and mine north of Fort McMurray.

“It is a big historic event for the whole history of this industry and the history of Suncor,” Suncor CEO Rick George said at a ceremony marking the event.

Called Pond 1, the 220-hectare site near the Athabasca River was the company’s first storage pond for tailings when commercial production began in 1967.

George said the chief goal in the early years of Suncor’s operation was to efficiently mine the technologically challenging resource but that reclamation of the site was always part of the plan.... Read more »

Titanic battle for public opinion looms

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

We'll find out next week when movie director James Cameron meets the Alberta oilsands.

Anyone who thinks Cameron isn't an irresistible force has never met a 15-year-old fan of the movie Avatar. And anyone who thinks the oilsands isn't an immovable object has never met Alberta's 39-year-old Conservative government.

The two are headed for a possible confrontation next week when Cameron begins his self-organized tour of northeastern Alberta to see for himself the world's largest energy development, the one he called a "black eye" on Canada's environment record last April.... Read more »

Mikisew Cree withdraw constitutional challenge of mining project

EDMONTON — The Mikisew Cree First Nation withdrew its constitutional challenge of an oilsands mining project Wednesday in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money and a confidential "social contract."

The hearing to review Total's Joslyn North Mine project adjourned on Tuesday, after the joint federal-provincial panel was told the Mikisew Cree would challenge the project on constitutional grounds.

"Mikisew's concerns with the mine were borne out of frustration with the governments of Canada and Alberta over the mismanagement of oilsands lands in their traditional territory," said the band's lawyer, Don Mallon.... Read more »

Total Joslyn Mine Proposal Quick Facts

From Total’s own admission the new open pit mine will:

  • Result in one and a half million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year, equivalent to putting over 270,000 cars on the road.

  • Destroy seven thousand hectares of land, equivalent to the 13,000 football fields, with no realistic hope of reclamation of these areas to the same natural state they were in before.

  • Result in the production of 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste each year, and over the project life amounting to a volume large enough to fill over 100 sports stadiums, without any proven plan to keep these toxic materials from entering the region’s lands and waters.

  • Result in the production of 2,740 tonnes of pollution each year that causes acid rain.

ERCB approves Shell Canada tailings plan

CALGARY - Alberta's energy watchdog has given Shell Canada some leeway in approving the company's plans to deal with waste from its Muskeg River oilsands mine.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board acknowledges a consolidated tailings plant Shell plans to build will not be up and running until 2012.

"Until the new tailings plant is operational, Shell will not be able to achieve the ERCB’s annual fine tailings reduction requirements," the board said.

However, from 2013 onwards, the ERCB has directed Shell to exceed the annual fine tailings reduction requirements in order to achieve a cumulative overall fine tailings reduction that is equal to or exceeds requirements by no later than the end of 2017.

Last year, the ERCB issued Directive 74, which ordered oilsands miners to clean up their tailings ponds, and submit plans outlining how they intend to achieve that.
... Read more »

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