Land Management

Site Reclamation

We seek to limit land use to the strict minimum necessary for our operations, and work to accelerate the reclamation process with solutions adapted to the specific characteristics of the boreal forest.

Site reclamation issues are taken into account from the project outset.

Diagram of the reclamation process
Two caribous at the edge of the forest looking at our photographer

During site development and use, we take special care to set up environmental and biodiversity protection systems. For example, we design wildlife corridors to allow animals to move around and zigzag trails to allow caribou to escape detection by natural predators such as wolves.

We have developed particularly innovative solutions for:

  • Reclaiming the future Joslyn North Mine;
  • Reducing the size of tailings ponds;
  • Quickly reforesting the site under the Faster Forests program;

The Ongoing Joslyn North Mine Reclamation Process

At the Joslyn North Mine, reclamation work will begin even before production starts up. When the last truck leaves the mine, two thirds of the site will have already been rehabilitated, and seven years after the mine’s closure, the entire site will be restored. This video is based on a 2011 vision of the Joslyn project. Since then design improvements are ongoing and a new presentation of the project should take place before end of 2014. 

Reducing the Size of Tailings Ponds

Total is deploying innovative methods at the Joslyn North Mine to reduce the size of tailings ponds.This approach will optimize water recycling and allow for gradual reclamation of the land within years, rather than decades.

Faster Forests

Left: Standard reclamation; Right: Faster Forest reclamation Both sites were reclaimed at the same time

Aimed to accelerate the reclamation cycle on oil sands production sites, this program grew out of best-practice sharing by five oil companies, including Total E&P Canada and ConocoPhillips. In traditional reclamation practice, grass is planted and trees then develop naturally over time. Taking into account recommendations from a study on reclamation by the University of Alberta, Conoco and Total decided to give forest growth a helping hand by planting spruce, birch and aspen seedlings at early stages. Plans are in place to add various species of native shrubs, as well as wild flowers, in future. Plant selection will be made in consultation with the First Nations in the Athabasca region.

Between 2009 and the end of 2012, OSLI (Oil Leadership Initiative) companies planted approximatively 1,6 million trees and shrubs.

Our approach draws on expertise from many sources, including the Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development (CONRAD). For example, the CONRAD Environmental and Reclamation Research Group (ERRG) is working on a series of studies to better understand boreal forest species and ecosystems and identify the most effective reclamation techniques to reduce environmental impacts.

We are also working with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) on projects relating to the monitoring and conservation of biodiversity in the region.

Source: OSLI (Oil Sands Leadership Initiative)