Survey of Heavy Minerals In the Surface-Mineable Area of the Athabasca Oil Sand Deposit

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 776, 1976

J. W. Kramers, Geology Division, and R. A. S. Brown, Engineering Division, Alberta Research Council, Edmonton, Alberta

Samples from seven test wells distributed throughout the surface-mineable area of the Athabasca Oil Sands have been evaluated to determine the amounts of heavy minerals present and the titanium and zirconium contents. The samples were treated to yield the size distribution of the titanium and zirconium minerals as well as their spatial distribution. The study has shown that heavy minerals are found throughout the surface-mineable area; concentrations range from 0.24 to 2.29 per cent (by weight), with a, mean of 1.02 per cent. Titanium and zirconium contents vary throughout the area, and are found preferentially in the finer size fractions. On the basis of preliminary calculations, the tailings streams from an oil sands plant would provide sufficient feed for a large-scale titanium pigment plant, and the tailings from, one plant would provide sufficient zircon feed to satisfy Canadian demand for metallic zirconium. Variability of the heavy mineral content and composition is such that the heavy mineral potential must be evaluated in detail for each mine site.
Keywords: Industrial minerals, Oil sands, Athabasca, Titanium, Zirconium, Heavy minerals, Mineral processing, Tailings.