The mining companies are required to restore the disturbed land to be at least as productive as it was before it was mined. Overburden that was removed for surface mining is replaced on top of the sand and sediment layer. Mining companies must ensure the overburden is not contaminated during the storage period.
Native species are then planted, such as white spruce, aspen, dogwood, and blueberry.
For example, a location called Wapisiw Lookout was a tailings pond from 1967 to 1997. The image series shows it later filled in by 2009, and then green by 2011.
In the Sentinel-2 image provided for this series, the 20-meter resolution allows the bench pattern in the open pits to be visible, especially in the pit in the upper left corner of the image. Click on that image and enlarge it to get the full effect.
Data from satellites such as Landsat and Sentinel-2 continue to monitor the mining and reclamation of the Athabasca region. The frequent repeat cycle of these satellites—8 days for Landsat and 10 days for Sentinel—ensures that the land can be observed as it changes.