The oil sands mining process separates bitumen from the sand which generates tailings - a mixture of water, sand, clay and residual hydrocarbons, as well as naturally occurring traces of heavy metals and chemicals – which are stored in tailings ponds, allowing the sand to settle at the bottom and the water to be recycled.
1. Over time sand, silt and clay settle to the bottom of the pond.
2. Water is removed for use in the extraction process.
3. Overburden and top soil are replaced back into the tailings pond.
4. Native vegetation is reintroduced to the site.