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Oil Sands Mines Reclamation and Disturbance Tracking by Company to the End of the Reporting Year


This data set provides information on the status of the land used by oil sands mines at the end of each calendar year from 2009 to 2020.  The data has been grouped by company. The statuses used include the following: 

EPEA Approved Footprint - is the total project area approved for development under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act approval issued to the company.

Mine Site Footprint - includes associated facilities. Includes all areas cleared, disturbed or reclaimed that do not fall within the definition of the Plant Site Footprint. For the purposes of annual conservation and reclamation reporting, it includes tailings ponds and tailings related structures.

Plant Site Footprint - includes associated facilities. Plant Site is defined as the industrial plant site footprint (i.e. plant site proper). For the purposes of annual conservation and reclamation reporting, it does not include tailings ponds and tailings related structures.

Total Active Footprint - equals the (cumulative) total area of land cleared plus disturbed plus ready for reclamation, plus soils placed, plus temporary and permanently reclaimed lands (terrestrial and aquatic). Certified lands are not included in this category.

Cleared – areas where vegetation has been removed for the purposes of preparing the land for drainage, soil removal, overburden removal, mining, etc. but where soil has been left mostly intact and relatively undisturbed.

Disturbed: Used for Mine or Plant Purposes – areas where at a minimum, soil has been removed or covered by other materials and soil would be required for reclamation purposes. This category includes, for example, all areas where soil removal, overburden removal, active mining, discard placement, or material storage has occurred. End Pit Lakes are reported in the disturbed category.

Ready for Reclamation: No Longer Used for Mine or Plant Purposes - areas that are no longer required for mine or plant purposes and are available for reclamation but where reclamation activities have not yet commenced.

Soils Placed (Terrestrial; Wetlands and Aquatics) - areas where reclamation material has been placed, reporting a combination of both the terrestrial, and the wetlands and aquatics permanent reclamation categories. Land moves from the Disturbed category to the Soils Placed category once reclamation material is placed as per the approved Reclamation and Soil Placement Plans.

Temporary Reclamation (Terrestrial) – areas being managed where vegetation has been seeded, planted, or ingressed, where there is an expectation that future disturbance may occur at that location.

Permanent Reclamation (Terrestrial; Wetlands and Aquatics) – land is considered permanently reclaimed when landform construction and contouring, clean material placement as required, reclamation material placement and revegetation has taken place. Land cannot be listed under permanent reclamation until revegetation has occurred which is reflective of the approved Reclamation and Revegetation Plans.

Certified - areas that have received a reclamation certificate under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. These areas are not counted in the Total Active Footprint calculation because they are no longer active (they are returned to the Crown).

Age of Reclamation – the age is calculated based on the year that the area was considered permanently reclaimed. If previously reclaimed land is re-disturbed, the number of hectares is removed based on the year it was reclaimed so that the total amount of land at any given age is accurately reflected.


Posted Date: Aug 15, 2022 Source:   All oil sands mine companies
Date Range: Jan 1, 2009 - Dec 31, 2020 Location:   Athabasca Oil Sands
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Usage Considerations

In 2009, Alberta Environment worked with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and the oil sands mine companies to review the way disturbance and reclamation information had been reported to Alberta Environment in the years up to 2008. Up to and including 2008, companies reported the status of the land using only three categories - disturbed, reclaimed and certified. Operators also defined these terms differently, resulting in inconsistencies in the data.

As a result of the review, the categories were expanded and a single set of definitions created. This has resolved the inconsistencies in reporting. It has also increased the level of detail at which we understand what is happening on the land.

Due to the significant shift in definitions and the number of categories used for reporting, the new data (starting January 1, 2009) cannot be compared to data reported up to December 31, 2008 (identified as 'historical' data). The old data can be seen in other data sets in this data library. The new data provides a true State of the Environment for the minable oil sands region as of December 31 of each year. It is updated annually using data provided by the operators in their Annual Conservation and Reclamation Reports.

Further Resources

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