SASKATOON, Sask. – University of Saskatchewan geoscientist Matt Lindsay will help Canada’s oil sands industry make sustainable mine closure decisions through a new $1.4-million industrial research chair funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Syncrude.
Over the next five years, Lindsay and a team of students will study byproducts of oil sands mining and processing — such as sand, treated fluid fine tailings and petroleum coke — and analyze changes to these materials after they are used to form reclaimed landscapes.
“If you store certain materials under deep soil or water cover, those materials typically won’t be exposed to atmospheric oxygen,” explained Lindsay. “If you took that same material and stored it on the land surface, it might behave quite differently. We want to understand what those differences are and why they occur, and use that information to develop strategies for placement of these materials to minimize their potential environmental impact.”
Syncrude, one of the world’s largest oil sands producers, will provide half of the $1,388,273 in funding for Lindsay’s new Industrial Research Chair in Mine Closure Geochemistry. In addition to providing money, Syncrude will also allow researchers to conduct research beyond the lab by granting access to its site for field studies.
Research chairs, like this one at the University of Saskatchewan, are important to help Syncrude and others in our industry reclaim land into a productive state after we’ve completed mining
Syncrude’s Manager of Research and Development
“They build on decades of research allowing us to continually improve our reclamation programs.”
Lindsay, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the U of S College of Arts and Science, has a decade of industry-partnered experience in the mining industry, performing both laboratory research and large-scale field studies.
Six graduate students and six undergraduate students will receive advanced training through this chair, which involves collecting samples from sites around Syncrude’s Mildred Lake facility near Fort McMurray, AB. The samples will be analyzed at U of S facilities, including the Canadian Light Source synchrotron.