Lab Canada

Project to capture minerals from oil sands tailings

Edmonton, AB – A $3.5-million grant from Alberta Energy to technology development company Titanium Corporation will support research into producing a variety of manufactured products from minerals extracted from oil sands tailings. Project researchers will study 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.

Titanium is a Canadian company developing a commercial process to maximize 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, the company’s president and CEO. “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.