KAOLIN CLAY DERIVED FROM OIL SANDS FINE TAILINGS

CIM Edmonton 2004
Edward (Ted) Lord, George Jones,
Abstract The clay fraction of oil sands fine tailings is dominated by the clay mineral kaolin. Kaolin is used in the paper industry as a filler and as a coating pigment. Large volumes are used for this purpose in Western Canada. Calcined kaolin is commercially available as addititive to produce high performance concrete.
Current supply of commercial kaolin requires mining, slurrying and refining natural clay deposits (primarily Georgia, USA and Brazil) and subsequent reclamation of the mined-out pits. At Syncrude, there are large volumes of fine tailings (a waste stream derived from the bitumen separation process) which could potentially be a source of kaolin.
This paper describes the initiatives, largely undertaken in collaboration with our research partners, to explore this opportunity. The Alberta Research Council, University of Calgary, Imerys, National Research Council, Ottawa, CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Devon have all contributed. This initiative is currently being lead by Dr. S. Liu at the University of Alberta with support from Alberta Energy Research Institute‘s COURSE program and industry. The Ecosmart Concrete Project recently completed a study on the use of kaolin recovered from oil sands tailings as a supplementary cementing material for concrete.
Keywords: Kaolin, Tailings, Oil sands
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