Titanium Corporation Receives Grant To Research Extraction of Hydrocarbons and Minerals from Oil Sands Tailings
|Without recovery, oil sands production is projected to lose 30 million barrels per year of bitumen and naptha by 2015. Click to enlarge.|
Alberta Energy has awarded Titanium Corporation a C$3.5-million grant to research 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 C$200-million Energy Innovation Fund.
Titanium Corporation is a Canadian company that is 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. (Earlier post.)
Not only can this research result in processing industrial waste into beneficial products, but it has the potential to significantly reduce emissions and improve the environment by extracting bitumen from tailings rather than from mining.—Energy Minister Mel Knight
The heavy minerals contained in the oil sands deposits are concentrated by the bitumen extraction/recovery process (en route to oil production). The majority of these minerals are contained in the oil sands froth treatment plant (FTP) tailings stream. Titanium Corporation’s process will intercept FTP tailings near their discharge into the tailings pond.
Two processing facilities will then treat the material recovered. A Primary Concentrator Plant will produce a Heavy Mineral Concentrate. This concentrate will then be separated in a Mineral Separation Plant into final products: ilmenite, leucoxene and zircon.
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.