The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) estimates that mine clean-up costs in the province have increased with the growth of oil-sand mining and in 2016, topped more than Can$23 billion (approximately US$18 billion; Cryderman 2017). The extraction of bitumen from surface oil sands in north-eastern Alberta produces an enormous amount of fluid tailings – for every barrel of bitumen extracted from the oil sands, 1.5 barrels of tailings waste is produced (Grant et al. 2013. It is estimated that Alberta currently has more than 1 billion cubic metres of oil-sand tailings (AER 2017).
The Alberta Mine Financial Security Program collects a security deposit from oil-sand miners to protect the public Estimated cost of mine clean-up – an example from oil-sand mining in Alberta, Canada from end-of-life project closure costs. The programme requires a base security, which increases when the mine has less than 15 years of life remaining. The fund currently holds about Can$1.38 billion – it is designed to cover the cost of making the site safe and providing ongoing management if the approval holder fails to meet its obligations (AER 2017). The AER has recently introduced measures to improve tailings management and ensure compliance with legislative requirements (AER 2016). However, there is concern that the programme does not currently obtain sufficient financial security from mine operators to safeguard the public from clean-up liabilities (Cryderman 2017).
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From collection: Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident