A Mesocosm‐Scale Study of Chemical and Ecological Response to Different Types of Oil Sands Tailings and Process Water (2019 ‐ 2021)

Ryan Melnichuk
Zhongzhi Chen
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The use of pit lakes (PL) to reclaim pits at the end of mine life is common in metal and coal extraction operations. Oil sands mine operators of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) Demonstration Pit Lake project (DPL) Joint Industry Project (JIP) have undertaken a series of mesocosm-scale projects to provide information to support the design of operational pit lakes in the closure landscapes.
Mesocosms are simplified and replicated physical models of 'real world' ecosystems and contain many of the same structural and functional components. In the spring of 2019, a study funded by the COSIA DPL JIP was undertaken to investigate the chemical and ecological effects of different types of oil sands tailings and process water on simplified aquatic ecosystems. The DPL JIP project aims to address research questions that are not covered by other regional pit lake research and address knowledge gaps at a mesocosm scale. This project is the second in a series of mesocosm-based studies that commenced in May 2017.