Joint provincial-federal review panel recommends approval of Teck's Frontier Oil Sands Mine

Joint provincial-federal review panel recommends approval of Teck's Frontier Oil Sands Mine

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) recommend approval of Teck Resources’ Frontier Oil Sands Mine, calling the project in the public interest.

The 260,000 bbl/day mine has an estimated price tag of $21 billion. The mine is expected to generate $70 billion in government revenues over its 41-year life span. Teck already has a number of participation agreements in place with surrounding First Nations communities.

If sanctioned, this would be Teck's first operated oil sands venture. Teck already has a 21.3% stake in the Fort Hills oil sands mine, which is operated by Suncor Energy. Frontier would also be the most northern mine in Alberta, located 110 km north of Fort McMurray, and 30 km from the southern border of the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.

The panel noted that although the mine would likely have significant effects on the environment, local wildlife and surrounding communities, Frontier is still in the very early stages of planning and lacks sufficient detail to address each concern. The panel listed 77 recommendations for the company, the province and federal government.

The report now goes to the federal environment minister, who has until February 2020 to make a final decision. The Alberta government will also need to give Frontier its final blessing.

Teck has yet to make a final investment decision on the project, but had previously suggested an initial phase of 170,000 bbl/day could be operational as early as 2026, ramping up to 260,000 bbl/day by 2037. The company intends to use paraffinic froth treatment technology, similar to Kearl and Fort Hills, to produce partially deasphalted bitumen, which will be diluted with condensate and sold directly to refineries.

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