Wherever our developments disturb land we pursue progressive reclamation efforts, including reclaiming tailings ponds.
Since Suncor opened Canada’s first oil sands mine in 1967, our oil sands operations have disturbed approximately 22,157 hectares of land. Land reclamation takes place once the disturbed land is no longer part of active operations. As of the end of 2015, the company had reclaimed about 10% of the total land disturbance to date.
We targeted a 100% increase in land area reclaimed by 2015 - we surpassed our target by reclaiming 3,730 hectares of oil sands in situ and mine disturbed lands or achieving a 176% increase relative to the 2007 baseline.
Read more about our environmental performance goals
Improving reclamation techniques and accelerating the rate at which land is reclaimed are two key ways we strive to balance responsible resource development with the need to preserve a healthy environment for future generations.
We are committed to ultimately returning all lands disturbed by our oil sands mining and in situ operations to a self-sustaining boreal forest ecosystem native to the area. Our efforts have led to milestones already being reached in both tailings pond and wetland reclamation, including;
- In 2010, Suncor became the first oil sands company to reclaim a tailings pond to a trafficable surface or 220 hectares watershed supporting a mixed wood forest, a network of streams and a marsh wetland;
- In 2011, Suncor joined 12 companies to form Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, (COSIA), to accelerate environmental performance environment, including in the Land Environmental Performance Area;
- By September 2011, 5 million trees were planted at Base Plant;
- In 2012, Suncor set a new planting record for planting the most trees, shrub and aquatic plants in a single season - 694,533 seedlings;
- In 2012, research results prompted us to use compostable tea bags in reclamation efforts in order to directly promote the growth of seedlings;
- In 2013, Suncor became one of the first companies in the world to complete reconstruction of a fen peatland watershed.
- In 2015, Suncor planted more than 230 hectares in one season, exceeding our record for largest area reclaimed in one year.
- By the end of 2015, Suncor had planted more than 7.9 million trees, shrubs and aquatic plants on our oil sands site – including 692,808 trees in the previous year alone.
Here are some details on Suncor’s reclamation procedures and performance in 2015:
* Reclaimed lands have not been certified as such by government regulators. For further details on what we mean by reclaimed, see the legal advisories.
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