Major Projects Progress
There are four major projects* now underway at our sites:
- Construction of the two new mine trains at Mildred Lake is estimated at $4.2 billion, with start-up scheduled for late 2014. These trains will incorporate new wet crushing technology which will increase production capacity and bitumen recovery, and reduce maintenance requirements.
- Relocation and start-up of two mine trains at the Aurora North mine were complete ahead of schedule and under budget, as of the third quarter of 2013.
- Construction of a $1.9 billion centrifuge plant began in 2012. It will dewater fluid fine tails (FFT) and produce a clay-rich soil material that can be used in the reclamation of former mine areas. Start-up is scheduled for the first half of 2015.
- Construction of a $800 million composite tails (CT) plant at our Aurora North mine has been completed on-schedule and under budget. This plant will dewater and process FFT into reclamation-ready material.
* Status of projects as of Q4 2013.
Sulphur, a natural constituent of the oil sands resource, is removed in Syncrude’s bitumen upgrading process. It is by law considered a natural resource that must be managed according to provincial guidelines. Syncrude’s Joint Venture owners take their proportional share of all of Syncrude’s daily liquid sulphur production and market it independently. Sulphur is only stored in blocks during emergency or maintenance situations.
To reduce the liability associated with current sulphur inventories, Syncrude owners are exploring options to make the stockpile available to the market.
Future Development Plans
Syncrude is focused on improving capacity utilization for the next number of years. Our owners believe this approach is the best opportunity to add value in the near term.
In 2012, we announced our intention to develop the Mildred Lake Extension (MLX)Project to sustain bitumen production levels at our Mildred Lake operation upon depletion of the currently approved mining areas. Initial project scoping is underway and we anticipate filing a formal regulatory application in late 2014. Pending stakeholder, regulatory and final Joint Venture owner approvals, construction is expected to commence towards the end of this decade for start-up by 2023.
While previous preliminary plans had been to expand production capability by developing the Aurora South Mine leases, these will likely remain undeveloped until the early 2020s or later depending on progression of the MLX Project.
Near-term capital spending through 2014 will focus on mine train relocations and replacements at both the Mildred Lake and Aurora North sites, as well as construction of the tailings management facilities.
Expansion projects require unanimous approval by the Syncrude Joint Venture participants. The most recent information about Syncrude’s forward-looking plans is available from Canadian Oil Sands Limited.