Oil Sands Mining
Overview of Oil Sands Mining
For several years now major surface mining oil sand companies have been able to develop unique commercial and cost-effective mining processes to extract bitumen from the sand found in Northern Alberta and the North-West Territories of Canada. In most cases, the bitumen content can be as high as 20% by weight at the face of the mine.
The sand is shoveled then transported to the crusher. The crushed mixture is combined with very hot water and hydro-transported by large Centrifugal slurry pumps to the primary extraction facility. The heated bitumen is floated in large settling tanks as sand drops to the bottom by gravity. Several process steps isolate any separated sand/clay from the bitumen.
The bitumen is sent to upgrading facilities to convert to sweet crude.
The sand, clay, and water are pumped by large slurry pumps to tailings ponds, and water is returned for process use. In some cases, the solids are “de-watered” with large alloy cyclones to reduce the volume sent to ponds.
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