Artificial lake to replace Syncrude Oilsands Mine

Jim Lorentz

Jim Lorentz

In 2012, Syncrude will finish a pit where it has been  mining oil sands over the last two decades. In its place, the company will build a huge experimental lake it is calling Base Mine Lake.
As Syncrude’s technology development officer Jim Lorentz explains, dried tailings left over from oil sands production will form the lake bottom.
“That is where we add a layer of mature fine tails and then we cap it with a freshwater cap. The lake is designed to have latoral zones which are the shallow zones where some of the vegetation and stuff you see in lakes grow from, allowing a lot of sunlight to permeate through and encouraging biological activity.
“The belief is after 10 years, we would have enough biological activity at the point where we could start introducing more complex life, like fish and amphibians, those kind of things.”
According to Lorentz, Base Mine Lake builds on the success of a previous pilot program which involved the construction of a four-acre lake. He stresses future monitoring of the aquatic environment at will be extensive. √

~ Cheryl Croucher

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