University of Saskatchewan
NSERC/Syncrude Industrial Research Chair in Mine Closure Geochemistry
Industrial Research Chairs program
Associate Chairholder since 2014
Development of mineable oil sand deposits in Northern Alberta provides significant economic benefits to Canadians. Environmental impacts associated with bitumen extraction and upgrading must be minimized to ensure these benefits continue to be realized. The footprint resulting from surface mining is expected to reach 4,800 square kilometers during this century, comparable to about the size of the current Calgary metropolitan area. Large volumes of overburden, tailings, and processing residues will be integrated into post-mining landscapes. Understanding how these landscapes—and the materials deposited within them—evolve geochemically is essential for effective mine closure planning. The goal of this research program is to significantly advance understanding of the geochemical characteristics and behaviour of oil sands mine closure landscapes. This interdisciplinary field and laboratory research examines chemical, biological, and physical processes to develop an integrated understanding of influences on water quality within closure landscapes. Specific objectives of this research are to:
- define the geochemical characteristics of key oil sands mine wastes;
- identify the processes and conditions that control water quality within existing deposits;
- constrain the geochemical implications of potential closure scenarios; and
- develop conceptual models of the geochemical evolution of closure landscapes to support decision making.
Information derived from this research program will serve as the foundation for geochemical and conceptual models of oil sands mine closure landscapes and will support ongoing closure planning.
Matthew Lindsay is an environmental geochemist with more than 10 years of mining-related research experience. His research is largely focused on understanding processes and conditions that control water quality in mining environments. Dr. Lindsay has particular expertise with the integration of chemical, physical, and biological data, and with reducing measurements made from the field to a molecular scale. His research has also focused on the development of innovative and cost-effective approaches for managing water quality in mining environments.
This IRC program was established in partnership with Syncrude Canada Ltd. with the aim of constraining the geochemical characteristics and behaviour of oil sands mine closure landscapes. This industry partnership directly supports realization of the research goal and objectives by:
- providing access to field sites and laboratory facilities;
- supporting use of specialized sampling equipment and infrastructure;
- facilitating establishment of field-scale and laboratory-scale experiments; and
- providing a critical venue for knowledge transfer. Results generated from this research will be relevant not only to oil sands mining operations, but also to other sectors of the mining industry.
- Syncrude Canada Ltd.
University of Saskatchewan
114 Science Place