Reclamation is a process that begins long before a shovel is even first put in the ground. Mine planning occurs years in advance which helps to not only chart the mine’s progression, but to also guide reclamation and map which elements will constitute the final restored landscape.
We have reclaimed over 3,600 hectares with another 1,1000 hectares ready for revegetation. Over eight million tree and shrub seedlings have been planted so far.
There are a number of major steps in the reclamation process through to official certification:
- Long-range reclamation plans – Developed decades in advance, and approved by government with input from stakeholders.
- Placement of landform foundation material – Overburden,sand and/or tailings fills up former mines.
- Landscape design –Geotechnical engineers guide the design of the landscape.
- Placement of top soil – Muskeg, peat and organic matter from the forest floor are moved from future mine areas and placed on land undergoing reclamation.
- Re-vegetation and reforestation – Vegetation specialists manage native plants, shrubs and trees to recreate diverse boreal forest ecosystems.
- Monitoring – Scientists keep close watch to ensure the health of the reclaimed area.
- Certification – When access to the reclaimed area is no longer required for our operations, and regulators determine the land is healthy, productive and reclaimed to their satisfaction, it can be certified. The land is then available to be released back to the Province of Alberta.
Syncrude is the only oil sands operation to have received certification for permanently reclaimed land. In 2008, certification was granted by the Alberta Government for the Gateway Hill upland forest area.
Learn more about our reclamation and land restoration efforts here.