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AER rejects Suncor's tailings management plan

AER rejects Suncor's tailings management plan

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has rejected Suncor's tailings management applications for its Millennium base plant mining operation. The two applications (No. 1857270 and 1857274) outline Suncor's plan for meeting fine fluid tailings (FFT) capture under the new Tailings Management Directive 085.

The company submitted a plan to water-cap its FFT, citing positive results from Syncrude's Base Mine Lake (BML). However, the AER says Suncor has failed to assess the risks associated with its plan to water-cap FFT, calling it an "unproven technology." 

As required by Directive 085, Suncor provided a Plan B, suggesting it could cap the FFT with tailings sand as an alternative. However, the decision to solid-cap versus water cap would not be made until 2039, 6 years after the mine has been depleted. 

The AER says the company failed to provide enough details on how it would construct the cap and expressed concerns it would take too long to reclaim the area.

Suncor is now required to submit a new tailings plan. The company says it will work with the AER to address their concerns and amend the applications.

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