Minerals permits and leasing overview

Explaining types of agreements along with how to acquire, maintain or terminate an agreement.


The Coal and Mineral Development Unit of the Department of Energy and Minerals issues and administers agreements relating to exploration and production of Alberta-owned (Crown) metallic and industrial minerals and ammonite shell. The Unit also administers agreements relating to storage caverns and other non-production uses of minerals. Information about these agreement types and associated administrative activities is summarized below. For additional information, refer to other information on this site including:

  • Tool Kits – for requirements, guidelines and instructions for different mineral activities.
  • Going for Gold – a brochure about recreational placer mining in Alberta.

Types of Agreements

Metallic and industrial mineral agreements

Metallic and industrial minerals include minerals such as diamonds and other precious stones, gold, iron and other precious and base metals, limestone and other stone, and salt (i.e., minerals other than oil, gas, coal, oil sands, ammonite shell and surface materials.)
The Metallic and Industrial Minerals Tenure Regulation provides for three types of metallic and industrial mineral agreements, see information bulletin 2022-01 for changes that came into effect on January 1, 2023.

Rock-hosted minerals permit

A permit grants the exclusive right to explore for Alberta-owned rock-hosted metallic and industrial minerals in a specified location. Other jurisdictions in Canada use the term "mineral claim" for this type of agreement. A permit can be held for an indefinite amount of. While there is no annual rent, permit holders are required to conduct exploration work and must report on the work every two years, for additional information, refer to the Exploration Tool Kit or the Prospecting Tool Kit.

Rock-hosted minerals lease

A lease grants the exclusive right to develop and mine Alberta-owned rock-hosted metallic and industrial minerals in a specified location. The term of a lease is 15 years, and it may be continued. Annual rent must be paid. Royalties must be paid if any mineral production takes place on the lease, for additional information, refer to the Mining Tool Kit.

Subsurface reservoir lease

A lease that grants the right to conduct operations to remove a Crown mineral in the subsurface reservoir zone to create a subsurface cavern and/or to use a subsurface cavern for the purpose of storing approved substances. The term of a Subsurface Reservoir Lease is 15 years, and it may be renewed. Annual rent is payable in the amount determined under the lease. For additional information, refer to A Guideline to Subsurface Reservoir Leases.

The AER regulates the drilling of wells and injection into subsurface formations. Apply through the AER or email: [email protected].

Agreements for depleted gas reservoirs used as storage caverns are administered by the Tenure Business Unit.

Placer minerals licence

A 5-year licence can be obtained by individuals interested in recreational placer mining, typically using a sluice box along Alberta waterways. This licence does not grant exclusive rights to a specific location. Panning does not require a licence. For additional information, refer to the Placer Mining Toolkit. Royalties must be paid if significant quantities of minerals are recovered, for additional information, refer to the Mining Tool Kit.

Ammonite shell agreements

Ammonite shell is the fossilized shell of a marine mollusc. Specimens with iridescent red and green colours are mined as a semi-precious stone for making jewellery. An ammonite shell agreement grants the exclusive right to recover ammonite shell from a specified location. The term of an ammonite shell agreement set out in the Ammonite Shell Regulation is 15 years, renewable for 5 years. Annual rent must be paid, for additional information, refer to the Ammonite Shell Tool Kit.

Acquiring an agreement

To select lands to include in an application, check the mineral activity maps to determine where mineral rights are disposed or unavailable. An individual or company's application for an agreement identifies the location of interest and must be accompanied by all applicable fees (see below). The preferred method of application is through the Electronic Transfer System (ETS). The Department checks, records and coordinates review of each application, as appropriate. If the application is successful, the Department prepares and issues the mineral agreement document.

Application costs

Applications must be accompanied by payment of an application fee, the first year of rent, plus the Goods and Services Tax (GST), as applicable:

Table 1.

Agreement TypeApplication FeeFirst Year of RentTerm
Rock-hosted minerals permit$625.00not applicableindefinite
Rock-hosted minerals lease$625.00$3.50/ha ($50.00 minimum)15-year initial term
15-year intermediate term, subject to escalating rental
Indefinite continued term if producing
Subsurface reservoir lease$625.00$12.50/ha (subject to change)15 years (Renewable)
Placer minerals licence$50.00not applicable5 years
Secondary Lease$625.00not applicable5 years
Ammonite Shell Agreement$625.00$3.50/ha ($50.00 minimum)15 years (Renewable for 5 years)

Maintaining an agreement

Certain routine requirements must be met to continue to hold an agreement. Annual rent must be paid on rock-hosted minerals leases, subsurface reservoir leases and ammonite shell agreements. Regular royalty reporting and payment is required on rock-hosted minerals leases. A mineral assessment report of exploration expenditures and results must be filed every two years to continue to hold a rock-hosted minerals permit. Changes to an agreement which may be required are described below.

Changing the ownership of an agreement

To change the ownership of the agreement, use the Electronic Transfer System (ETS) and instructions can be found in the ETS online training.

Amending an Agreement

During the life of the agreement it may be necessary to change the area covered by the agreement. An amendment may be initiated by the designated representative.

Terminating an agreement

An agreement may be terminated for a number of reasons. The designated representative may request to surrender the agreement before the end of its term, or may request or confirm that they do not wish to renew the agreement when it expires. Terminating a rock-hosted minerals permit is often requested as part of filing a mineral assessment report. The Department may cancel an agreement for failure to comply with terms and conditions, or because the agreement has expired and request to renew has not been received. There is no fee for surrendering an agreement.


Connect with the Coal and Mineral Development Unit:

Hours: 8:15 am to noon and 1 pm to 4 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-7707
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]


Alberta Energy and Minerals
Coal and Mineral Development Unit
North Petroleum Plaza
9945 108 Street *
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2G6

* Couriers, please report to the 2nd floor.

Calgary (drop-off location only)

Alberta Energy and Minerals
300, 801 6 Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta  T2P 3W2