Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2015

Posted March 12, 2015 (Updated March 16, 2015)

Event: March 25, 2015

GSE: Dr. Ward Wilson, Principal Investigator, Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility - Innovations in Oil Sand Tailings Geotechnique

Location: Engineering Technology Annex, NAIT (10240 Princess Elizabeth Avenue)

Time: 11:15am (11:15am Registration, 11:30am Lunch, 12:00pm Presentation)

Cost: $20 Members, $30 Non-members, $5 Students

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Please register for this event using the form below by March 23, 2015.

Parking is next door on 103 Street of Princess Elizabeth Avenue or 118 Avenue, at the new five story NAIT Parkade.

Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance has published a Technical Guide for Fluid Fine Tailings Management (TGFFTM). The key issue identified for the management of fluid fine tailings (FFT) during the operation of oil sands mines centres on the creation of dry landscapes and sustainable terrains for mine reclamation. The current volume of legacy mature fine tailings (MFT) in above grade containment dams exceeds 850 million cubic metres. The TGFFTM specifically states, "the methods for transformation of fluid find tailings into stable, sustainable elements of a closure landscape are all in various states of development, from preliminary research to commercial practice. None can be considered as mature, i.e. proven practice, with performance fully demonstrated for operation and closure". This declaration defines the relevant and urgent need for the research Industry Orientated Research (IRC) program in Oil Sands Tailings Geotechnique that has recently been established at the University of Alberta.

The TGFFTM describes four deposit types to be developed for FFT management and subsequent commercial implementation. These are: i) Thin layered, fines-dominated deposits that rely on environmental dewatering of chemically treated MFT, ii) Deep, fines-dominated deposits where dewatering occurs by self-weight consolidation of MFT, iii) Fines-enriched sand deposits that dewater more quickly under self-weight consolidation, and finally iv) Water capped fines deposits where MFT is deposited into mine pits and are capped with water. The recently published Oil Sands Tailings Technology Roadmap and is exceptionally comprehensive and an extensive list of high priority technologies were identified. These include Accelerated Dewatering, Super CT (composite/consolidated tailings), Co-mixing MFT with Overburden Shale, and Water Capped MFT Lakes. These new technologies will be investigated in the IRC research program are described here.

G. Ward Wilson, Ph.D, P.Eng, P.Geol, is currently the Principal Investigator of the Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility (OSTRF) located in Devon, Alberta. He brings over 25 years of industrial experience to his practice in advanced mine waste management and unsaturated soil mechanics. He has extensive work experience as a consulting engineer and has maintained a strong industrial focus through his research programs.

Dr. Wilson is involved in mine waste management systems for numerous sites worldwide. He has also served as a specialist consultant to several large international mining companies such as the well-known ARD Risk Review recently completed by Rio Tinto. In addition, Dr. Wilson recently served as the lead author responsible for the chapter on Prevention and Mitigation in the Global Acid Rock Drainage Guide prepared for International Network for Acid Prevention.

Dr. Wilson has developed extensive programs in soil cover systems for mine waste management and long-term closure of tailings and waste rock. He led the development of the comprehensive numerical model 'SoilCover' (under the Canadian MEND program) for the prediction of soil cover performance. In addition, he was responsible for the benchmark research programs for predicting and monitoring of the performance of the cover systems at the Equity Silver and Kidston Gold Mines. Dr. Wilson is currently engaged in large scale-up experiments for waste rock at the Grasberg and Antamina mines to investigate various mitigation techniques as well as a new and innovative research program for the blending of tailings and waste rock (Paste Rock) to produce new high-strength sealing materials for mine waste management systems.


c/o. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
7th Floor, Danadeo Innovation Center for Engineering
9211 - 116 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
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