Ownership types

While Alberta has surface rights owners and mineral rights owners, some individuals or organizations may own rights to both. Surface rights owners own the surface and substances such as sand and gravel, but not the minerals. The company or individual who owns the mineral rights owns all mineral substances found on and under the property. There are often different surface and mineral owners on the same land. The mineral owner has the right to explore for and recover the minerals but at the same time must do this in a reasonable manner so as to not significantly affect use of the surface. Mineral ownership is defined in detail in the Mines and Minerals Act, and its associated regulations. Mineral rights are registered in accordance with the Land Titles Act.

Ownership in Alberta

The Crown owns 81% of the mineral rights (approximately 53.7 million hectares of land).

Non-Crown mineral rights (approximately 19% of Alberta's lands) are owned by:

Category (Original Grantee) Area (hectares) % of the Province

Federal (National Parks, Indian



Companies (CPR, CN Rail, HBC...)



Private individuals (homesteaders*)






Non-Crown Minerals total



Ownership map

* Homesteaders or Freehold Landowners have the responsibility to pay Freehold Mineral Tax on revenue derived from production.


Date Authority Decision Result


King of England

Granted approximately 1 billion acres of land (about half of Canada) to 2 French explorers through a royal charter.

The 2 French explorers eventually formed the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).


Dominion of Canada

Negotiated with the HBC for approximately 4.5 million acres of land.

Land rights returned to the Canadian government


Early settlers

Obtained mineral rights under the Dominion Lands Act (Canada).

Settlers acquired ownership by occupying the land and performing certain improvements over 3 years.


Dominion of Canada

Changed the Dominion Lands Act to reserve minerals in the name of the Crown.

Settlers were no longer entitled to mineral rights.


Government of Canada

Gave the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) a main line grant of $25 million and lands for construction of the transcontinental railway.

The land grant was 25 million acres (7.4 million hectares of land, 4 million hectares of which was in Alberta). Settlers could purchase land from CPR including the mineral rights.



Began to reserve some mineral rights from sale depending on location.

By 1912 CPR reserved all mines and minerals rights from most sales of land.


Government of Canada​

Granted veterans lands under the Soldier Settlement Board (SSB).

First World War veterans could apply for assistance to establish a farm.


Government of Canada

The Natural Resources Transfer Act moved mineral rights for 53.7 million hectares from Canada to Alberta.

This is approximately 81 per cent (Alberta is just over 66 million hectares) enabling Alberta to offer rights for Petroleum and Natural Gas (P& NG) public sale.


Alberta Justice

Negotiated the transfer of mineral rights for the SSB lands from Canada to Alberta.

A cash settlement of approximately $31.5 million for the SSB and the transfer and control of:

  • 265 other federally-owned mineral titles and 7 associated mineral leases; and
  • 212 SSB mineral titles and 89 associated mineral leases

Determining ownership

To find out who owns mineral rights, you can get a land title search by;

To find out who owns Surface rights

Mineral Accretion Application Process

Receding water can transform your landscape, this is also known as mineral accretion. You can apply to have your title amended.

Accretion is a gradual natural process of permanent recession of a water body resulting in transformation of landscape from a bed and shore to dry upland. Under the section 89 of the Land Titles Act, any riparian owner (owner whose parcel is adjacent to a body of water or a stream) might apply to have their title amended.

To apply to amend a title description

Step 1.

Fill out and file the Accretion Application form A found within the Service Alberta Land Titles Procedures Manual, Surveys - Natural Boundary changes (SUR 12) (PDF, 74 KB)

  • If approved, Mineral Accretion Application restriction is temporarily placed on the applied lands and Energy confirms the actual accretion on the surface occurred with Water Boundaries.

Step 2.

If the accretion process is not complete i.e. some of the water body still remains in the area, a Registered Survey plan may be required.

Step 3.

Consent of the impacted lessee(s) is required (if there is any active mineral tenure).

Step 4.

Successful applicants will obtain a Crown consent letter (drafted in collaboration with the department's legal services) describing the accreted lands to be added to their title.

Step 5.

Amendment to applicant’s Mineral Certificate of Title is handled by Land Titles.

Step 6.

Any impacted mineral tenure (leases & licenses) will be amended as a result.