We received approval from Alberta regulators in June 2010 to expand use of our new TROTM tailings management approach, which we expect will significantly reduce tailings reclamation time.
We anticipate spending more than $1 billion over 2010 to 2012 to implement the TROTM process across our operations. Our new approach has already enabled us to cancel plans for five additional tailings ponds. In the years ahead, we expect it will help us reduce the number of tailings ponds at our current mine site from eight to one, allowing us to reclaim entire mine sites in about a third of the time it now takes — resulting in more rapid restoration of natural habitats.
The implementation of the TROTM process towards full commercial scale operations is well underway.
More than 200 employees and contractors worked to ramp up the TROTM process during the summer 2010 peak drying months. Heading into the 2010-2011 winter season (when drying isn't possible), Suncor had:
- processed approximately 2.9 million tonnes of tailings fines (compared to 188,000 tonnes of tailings fines in 2009)
- capacity to process 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of tailings fines per day (compared to a tailing fines processing capacity of 1,500 tonnes per day in 2009)
- four TROTM process mature fine tailings (MFT) drying sites and five plants (compared to one drying site and one plant in 2009)
- plans to add MFT drying sites annually for the next three years, resulting in increased capacity to process tailings fines
The first phase of implementation is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012, with the second phase slated for wrap up by year-end 2012.
Because tailings management is such a pressing industry-wide challenge, Suncor and six other oil sands companies announced plans in December 2010 to work together in a unified effort to advance tailings management. Each company has pledged to share its existing tailings research and technology and to remove barriers to collaborating on future tailings research and development.
Suncor intends to share details specific to its TROTM process. The companies are committing to future research investments to further accelerate tailings technology advances.