Water capping involves the placement of a layer of water over a deposit of fluid fine tails to form a lake. Syncrude began researching this technology in the 1980s and has demonstrated its viability through laboratory testing and eleven test ponds of various sizes. Results have shown these lakes will evolve into natural ecosystems and, over time, support healthy communities of aquatic plants, animals and fish.
Eleven test ponds were utilized over the last two decades to research the water capping method. Research shows these water bodies will evolve into healthy aquatic ecosystems.
The industry’s first commercial-scale demonstration of water-capped end pit lake technology is underway in our former west mine pit. It will be used to evaluate the large-scale viability of water capped tailings as a remediation strategy for both fluid fine tailings and oil sands process-affected water. It will be monitored intensively for about 20 years to demonstrate that the lake is developing into a viable ecosystem and to prove that this technology can be used on other oil sands leases. It is anticipated that long-term monitoring will continue after this demonstration period is complete.
Learn more about water capping in our Sustainability Report.