National Geographic : 2004 Jun
clock an army of enormous shovels (below) gouges sand from pits until hitting bedrock at about 250 feet. Filled with sand-it takes two tons to make each barrel of oil-one truck after another heads to the processing facilities (above). Syncrude, the largest of the three major operators here, obtains roughly 240,000 barrels of oil from the sand every day. Already finished with one area (below left), Syncrude has begun to refill it with tailings-the original sand, washed light gray-and plans to replant native trees and grasses as soon as the fill settles.