Research project to capture valuable minerals from Canadian oil sands tailings and reduce emissions intensity

An abundance of manufactured products including ceramic tiles and kitchenware, consumer electronics, medical appliances and paints may in the future include minerals extracted from oil sands tailings thanks to a C$3.5 million grant from Alberta Energy to Titanium Corp. The company will research the value-added opportunities and environmental benefits of stripping out hydrocarbons and heavy minerals from oil sands tailings streams. Funding for this two-year project is being provided through Alberta’s Energy Innovation Fund.
“The ingenuity of our energy industry continues to offer significant benefits for current and future generations of Albertans,” said Energy Minister Mel Knight. “Not only can this research result in processing industrial waste into beneficial products, but it has the potential to significantly reduce emissions and improve the environment by extracting bitumen from tailings rather than from mining.”Titanium Corp is developing a commercial process to maximise the value existing in waste material presently being deposited in Alberta’s oil sands tailings. Rather than channeling mine froth tailings into disposal areas, the mineral-rich stream is sent to a separation plant via pipeline where bitumen, titanium minerals, zircon and naphtha are to be recovered for commercial use.

“I am very pleased that the Government of Alberta has agreed to provide such significant support for this project,” said Scott Nelson, President and CEO of Titanium Corp. “Development of new technology that will reprocess an otherwise discounted waste product will add value to the bitumen resource and provide a number of environmental benefits such as reduced carbon dioxide emissions and smaller disposal areas.”

More than 90% of the world’s titanium minerals are sold to the pigment industry, which manufactures products for the paint, coating, paper and plastics industries. Another important use of titanium is in making alloys. Zircon sand is in high demand worldwide and is used by the ceramic, refractory and chemical industries. Naphtha, a liquid hydrocarbon, may also be recovered through the research project and reused for processing bitumen prior to upgrading. ¬†

The $200-million Energy Innovation Fund is a cross-ministry initiative that supports Alberta’s Integrated ¬≠Energy Vision to build on world-class knowledge, expertise and leadership and responsibly develop our vast energy resources for the benefit of current and future generations.