Syncrude will launch a pilot project at its Mildred Lake site this summer to confirm if petroleum coke treated water is suitable to return to the Athabasca River.
After 14 years of research, the oil giant will start operating a full-scale closed-circuit water return demonstration project.
The project uses technology with principles similar to a home water filtration system that uses activated carbon, but instead, Syncrude will use petroleum coke.
Senior Engineering Associate Warren Zubot said the expectation is that the technology will help speed up the reclamation process.
“Mine water treated by our petroleum coke technology removes suspended solids such as clay, as well as hydrocarbons and dissolved organic compounds, including naphthenic acids.”
The water being treated will return to the Mildred Lake Settling Basin, which is one of Syncrude’s main sources of recycled water.
The project will be used to collect evidence that the technology improves water quality enough to release it off site.
Zubot said if approved, oilsands mining operations could advance reclamation and meet mine closure targets.
Manager of Community Relations Colleen Legdon said that public input, including engagement with Indigenous communities, will be incorporated into decisions that may affect surrounding communities.