GHG Emissions

The nature of the oil sands makes them energy-intensive to produce. Energy is needed to transport the earth, to break it down into smaller pieces and to heat the water used in the separation process ...

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GHG Emissions

Reclaiming Land

Oil sands operations, especially open-pit mines, disturb a large area of land. The challenge – and a government requirement – is to return the land to a sustainable landscape (reclamation) ...

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Reclaiming Land

Water Use

Water is an important part of oil sands production. In mining operations, warm water is used to separate the bitumen from the sand and clay. Upgraders also use steam to heat the bitumen ...

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Water Use

Water Quality

Both mining and in situ oil sands operations may potentially affect groundwater quality; mining operations also create tailings ponds ...

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Water Quality

Tailings Ponds

The tailings ponds required at mines are large and impact the landscape. Existing tailings ponds cover 176 km2 (67 mi2). A tailings pond – an engineered dam and dyke system – is used as a settling basin ...

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Tailings Ponds


Tapping Canada’s vast oil sands is a complex endeavour involving far more than equipment and technology. Underpinning every step in the process are policies, procedures and programs...

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Health and Safety

Protecting Wildlife

A number of wildlife species are vulnerable to oil sands development activities and have been affected by disturbances to their habitats. Oil sands development can affect plants and wildlife in several ways ...

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Protecting Wildlife

Research & Innovation

Industry-led research has been under way in the oil sands since development began in the early 20th century. Today, dozens of industry- and government-supported research projects ...

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Research and Innovation

Community Interaction

As both the oil sands industry and communities grow, the lines between development and community intersect. Landowners have questions about the impact of operations and industry ...

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Community Interaction

Aboriginal Peoples

The development of the oil sands can result in shared and potentially conflicting interests between industry and Aboriginal peoples. Collaboration is needed to help avoid misunderstandings and disagreements ...

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Aboriginal Peoples

Markets and Transportation

Canadian crude oil producers continue to build new markets for their expanding production. New market opportunities include Eastern Canada, the U.S. and growing economies in Asia.

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Aboriginal Peoples

Quick facts about topics of interest


About 70% of GHG emissions come from combustion, primarily automobile exhaust.


0.02% of Canada's boreal forest has been disturbed by oil sands mining operations over the past 40 years.
Source: AESRD 2011


Since operations began in the 1960s, approximately 10% of the active mining footprint has been or is being reclaimed
by industry.


Oil sands producers recycle 80-95% of water used. Source: AESRD

170 million m3

Oil sands fresh water use in 2010 was approximately 170 million m3.
Source: CAPP 2010

176 km2

Tailings are the leftover mixture of water, sands, clay and residual oil. The total area of existing tailings ponds is 176 km2. Source: ERCB


An Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) report states the lower Athabasca region resources are 94% intact. Source: AESRD 2010

Canada's Oil Sands: Come See for Yourself