Research Theme - Sustainable Development of Natural Resources

Tailings ponds are a by-product of open pit mining in the Athabasca Oil Sands.

The Sustainable Development of Natural Resources research theme at the Global Institute for Water Security addresses the challenge of sustainable use and protection of water resources in industries such as the energy sector, mining and forestry. 

Canada is at the forefront of natural resource development, with large investment and growth in natural resource development. Inter-disciplinary science and creative partnerships between government, universities and industry are needed to deliver the tools needed for effective management and environmental protection of watersheds.

A Canadian example where our research will make a difference is in the Alberta Athabasca oil sands – an area that faces a highly complex set of scientific, technical and societal challenges. This area presents a unique opportunity for the development of new science and management practices that could significantly change the way water is used and the way land and water are reclaimed, not just in the oil sands industry, but in other mining operations in Canada and around the world.

 

Theme Objectives:

  • Develop new assessment and remediation technologies by understanding the interactions between ecotoxins, the hydrological cycle and wetland ecology. Remediation techniques could include the use of engineered wetlands for wastewater treatment.
  • Better understand the ecological and human toxicity of oil sands pollutants by integrating pollutant assessments across terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • By understanding how pollutants biodegrade and how they are sequestered, develop integrated decision-support tools for risk assessment and remediation of contaminated land and water.
  • Examine the potential for the development of extraction and processing technologies that have a reduced environmental footprint.
Advanced analytical facilities, including the Canadian Light Source and the Toxicology Centre, will play a significant role in meeting the above objectives.
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