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The clay minerals present in the oil-sands ore are responsible for some of the most challenging (and intriguing) processing behavior experienced on a routine basis in oil-sands surface mining. In previous chapters, significant details have been provided on how specific clay properties can give rise to changes in slurry rheology and interface phenomena. Because the bitumen extraction process relies heavily on manipulation of interfacial effects to enhance separation, changes in clay content in the ore, not surprisingly, can have a dramatic impact on the ability to process the material. This chapter provides an overview of the extraction process, the influence of clay minerals on bitumen recovery, and the challenges in reacting to changes in the ore clay content in a typical operation. The chapters that follow focus on the larger issue of tailings treatment to create a reclaimed landscape at the end of mine life.

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