Executive Summary

Significant hydrocarbon resources in Alberta are inaccessible using current methods. Oil sands located at depths greater than surface mining can access may be exploited using insitu technology; however, about 24% of the reserves in the oil sands are uncontained and cannot be extracted with insitu technology (PTAC, 2006). Moreover, 26% of the reserves in the McMurray formation are located in a carbonate formation and have proven to be difficult to produce because of low initial permeability (PTAC, 2006). One solution that could be applied to both of these significant sources of reserves would be to utilize underground mining techniques. Traditional methods, such as longwall mining, hold promise but may be difficult to implement because of ground control issues. Other proven underground methods such as hydraulic jetting and caving may be able to take advantage of the geotechnical weakness of the oil sands. Finally, some alternative methods that have not yet been explored in the realm of mining are considered as possible areas of future research.

Final Report