Wherever our developments disturb land, we pursue progressive reclamation, including reclaiming tailings ponds that are no longer required for active operations.
Since Suncor opened Canada’s first oil sands mine in 1967, our oil sands operations have disturbed approximately 22,179 hectares of land. Land reclamation takes place once the disturbed land is no longer part of active operations. As of the end of 2016, the company had reclaimed about 10% of the total land disturbance to date.
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 ensure 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, locally common boreal forest ecosystem. 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, consisting of a 220 hectare watershed that supports 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 enable responsible and sustainable growth of Canada’s oil sands while delivering accelerated improvement in environmental performance through collaborative action and innovation;
- 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 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 the largest area reclaimed in one year.
- By the end of 2016, Suncor had planted more than 7.9 million trees, shrubs and aquatic plants at our Base plant alone – including 692,808 trees planted in the previous year.
Here are some details on Suncor’s reclamation procedures and performance in 2016:
* Reclaimed lands have not been certified as such by government regulators. For further details on what we mean by reclaimed, see the legal advisories.