Suncor's Fort Hills mine will extract an estimated 1 billion barrels of bitumen. (File photo)
To protect the undeveloped wetland while the remainder is drained and excavated, Suncor provides a complex array of wells and pumps to control and monitor water levels and chemistry. It also undertakes to install a wall nearly 14 kilometers long and 20 to 70 meters deep to separate the two halves.
We we are committed to maintaining the ecological diversity and function of the unexploited part, says Leithan Slade, its spokesperson.
The operating plan is expected to evolve as technology advances.
A quote from Leithan Slade, Suncor spokesperson
The oil company maintains that the AER's decision demonstrates that the plan it proposed is rigorous and technically sound.
In its submission to the regulator, the Alberta Wilderness Association cites wetlands experts who say the technology has not been tested to ensure its effectiveness.
They add that such structures are known for their leaks and that the exploited half of the wetland is susceptible to significantly modify the unexploited part.
However, this was not enough to convince the provincial regulatory authority.
With information from Paula Duhatschek and The Canadian Press