Cleaning waste water
When we extract oil from the oil sands a mixture of water, coarse sand, silt and clay particles, and residual oil is left behind. This mixture, known as tailings, is stored and carefully managed. Tailings are integral to our mining operation, as they allow us to recycle water from tailings ponds.
We manage tailings carefully to minimise risks to wildlife and the surrounding environment. Residual bitumen floating on the surface can be a risk to waterfowl if landing in a tailings facility. Tailings are monitored continuously and sophisticated bird-averting technology is used to discourage birds from landing there.
At our Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada in 2014 we used approximately 1.14 barrels of river water from the Athabasca River for every barrel of bitumen extracted from our mining operations. This was supplemented by groundwater, precipitation and connate water (water that forms part of the ore) as part of water recycling. We recycle all water recovered from this extraction process, but need fresh water to replace the water that evaporates.