We gathered feedback to help us develop a modern coal policy that will protect the areas Albertans cherish, while allowing responsible resource development in appropriate places.
The Coal Policy Committee was formed to lead a comprehensive engagement and to ensure the views of all Albertans were represented.
The committee considered feedback from Albertans, Indigenous people, communities and organizations to inform their final report and recommendations.
Results under review
Who is listening
Ministry of Energy
In response to recommendations made in the Coal Policy Committee's final reports, we are expanding restrictions on coal-related activities in the Eastern Slopes until effective land-use planning is completed for the area.
We will address concerns about the management of coal resources raised in the reports through existing legislation and regulations that have superseded the 1976 Coal Policy. Many wide-ranging initiatives are already underway that align with the committee’s recommendations.
In response to the recommendations, we are expanding the restrictions on coal exploration and development in the Eastern Slopes until land-use planning can be completed.
Through a Ministerial Order, coal exploration and development activities in the Eastern Slopes will now be restricted on all Category 2, 3 and 4 lands. The restrictions will remain in effect until direction on coal activities has been embedded in completed or updated land-use plans.
- All existing legislation related to coal activities and Alberta’s rigorous regulatory system remain in place.
- The 1976 Coal Policy also continues to apply across the province. This includes freehold coal rights.
- Activities already in progress for active mines and advanced projects can continue, as well as activities related to security or safety.
- Abandonment and reclamation activities can resume.
See Ministerial Order 002/2022 for more details.
Land-use planning in Alberta considers multiple uses and the cumulative impacts of various activities on our landscape, and is informed by comprehensive consultation with Albertans, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.
We intend to embed the coal categories from the 1976 Coal Policy into the Eastern Slopes Policy in the coming months. Coal activities will be addressed in integrated regional and sub-regional land use planning processes in the future.
While land-use planning will provide direction regarding where coal mining activities may be allowed, Alberta’s rigorous regulatory processes will continue to be employed to assess the potential impacts of a proposed coal project and, if deemed to be in the public interest, ensure that appropriate rules, limits and oversight are in place to protect the environment.
Existing mines will continue to be subject to all existing policies and legislation and to Alberta’s rigorous regulatory system, which is overseen by the Alberta Energy Regulator. Land-use plans may provide new direction that is relevant to operations and reclamation of existing mines. Once land use planning has been completed, existing mines will be subject to land use direction provided in the plan.
We have started work on a number of wide-ranging initiatives that align with the committee’s recommendations.
- A selenium management review to examine Alberta’s current regulatory requirements and assess relevant policy tools used in comparable jurisdictions.
- New surface water quality management frameworks for the North Saskatchewan, Battle and upper Athabasca rivers to protect water quality and manage cumulative effects.
- A review of the Mine Financial Security Program to ensure it adequately covers the industry’s reclamation liabilities and protects taxpayers.
- Alberta will provide its feedback to Environment and Climate Change Canada regarding a proposed approach for federal Coal Mining Effluent Regulations, which are expected to be finalized by the end of 2023.
- Alberta Environment and Parks is currently monitoring water quality, including selenium levels, at 116 river and tributary sites across Alberta, plus an additional 31 tributary sites through the oil sands monitoring program.
- Getting it right on coal in Alberta (March 4, 2022)
- Coal policy reports received: Minister Savage (December 29, 2021)
- Coal policy report deadline extended: Joint statement (November 10, 2021)
- Coal exploration halted on Category 2 lands (April 23, 2021)
- Engaging with Albertans on a modern coal policy (March 29, 2021)
- Coal consultation: Minister Savage (February 23, 2021)
- Alberta’s 1976 coal policy reinstated (February 8, 2021)
- Coal leases: Minister Savage (January 18, 2021)
Last updated: March 4, 2022