The Fort Hills oil sands mining project is being developed as an open-pit truck and shovel mine. The project is planned to mine and process 110 million tonnes of oil sand per year, yielding an average of 194,000 barrels of bitumen per day at full production. The mine life for recoverable resources is expected to be approximately 50 years.
Fort Hills’ open-pit mine plant has two main pits and a mine fleet capable of sustaining a production of 14,500 tonnes of oil sand per hour. The mine will deliver oil sands feed to two ore crushing plants, where oil sand material will be crushed and processed. Ore from this process will be mixed with warm water and conditioned to create slurry, which will be transported to primary extraction via large diameter specialised slurry pipelines named Hydrotransport lines.
In primary extraction, the conditioned oil sands slurry is fed to two trains of separation cells. The separation cells remove the bitumen from the sand, which yields a froth mixture of bitumen, water and clay. Froth is then sent for further treatment in secondary extraction where it is mixed with solvent and sent through two stages of counter-current settlers to remove asphaltenes, molecular substances found in crude oil, excess sand and water. The bitumen is then sent to a solvent recovery unit to remove the solvent and prepare the bitumen for shipping. The final product is marketable bitumen.