The bitumen found in the oil sands of northern Alberta, Canada, represents a significant oil resource. This bitumen is extracted either from mined ore or by using in situ methods. The water-based extraction of mined ore creates large volumes of mineral suspensions that are stored in tailings ponds. Remediation of fine tailings has presented challenges. Several new treatment technologies promise to accelerate the remediation process and at the same time recover more water for use in the extraction process. As a world-class oil reserve, and the only commercially developed oil sand deposit, the Alberta oil sands represent an important future oil source, the magnitude of which will depend to some extent on our ability to limit environmental impacts.

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