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Oil mining is a production method that is dependent on geologic and economic factors such as ore-to-waste ratio, oil content of the ore, and processing plant size. Low-cost surface mining is used where the bitumen- rich formations are found at shallow depths although ore-to-waste ratios of 8 do not increase mining costs significantly. In contrast, doubling the oil content of the rock will increase profitability by 50% or more. The heavy-oil/tar-sand deposit must be large enough to support a processing plant of optimum size to avoid losses in profitability due to economy of scale.

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