New Process for Aggregate Pits for Alberta Environment and Protected Areas and Municipal Partners

Effective September 3, 2021, this process applies to new aggregate applications for surface material exploration (SME), surface material lease (SML) and surface material registration that are within the 69 counties and municipal districts that are members of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA).

The guide for this new process and its accompanying fact sheet can be found here: Aggregate Pits: Municipal and Provincial Processes.

Discontinuation of the Aggregate Land Request (ALR)

Effective July 30, 2021, the ALR and associated processes were discontinued within the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) regulatory application systems. This is part of the regulatory transformation work under the Regulatory Assurance Framework (RAF), to be captured in the Digital Regulatory Assurance System (DRAS).

The regulatory review components, as currently managed under the ALR request process, will now be applied to the Surface Material Exploration (SME) application process. These specific regulatory components, as supported within the Alberta Aggregate (Sand and Gravel) Allocation Directive for Commercial Use on Public Lands, are:

  • Public Interest Test – Based on an SME application, is the identified area with potential aggregate required for provincial or municipal public work projects. This is assessed based on known reservations or through referral responses from affected municipalities and Alberta Transportation.
  • Environmental Value Impacts – Based on the location of the proposed SME, environmental values may limit access to areas within the proposed SME boundary (timing restrictions), or restrict locations completely. This may lead to the SME being refused, or approved with awareness of any identified limitations that may inform subsequent regulatory decisions leading from the completion of an SME.

EPA has advised all current ALR applicants by letter that they now have the option to apply for an SME, in place of the existing application, within 60 days of receipt of the letter. All future SME regulatory decisions will now consider the public interest and environmental value components as stated above, as part of the application review.

Should you have any questions regarding this matter, send inquiries to: [email protected].


Alberta Environment and Protected Areas periodically reviews its processes. We do this in response to factors such as better scientific information and shifts in regulatory expectations.

The Alberta government has made changes to surface material applications and review processes.

Changes to borrow activities on public land for energy operators

As of January 1, 2021, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has the regulatory authority to manage surface material leases and licences under certain conditions. The AER can review and issue dispositions for borrow pits subject to these conditions:

  • The borrow pit is required for and is incidental to an operator’s energy resource activities;
  • Only sand, silt or clay materials are removed; and,
  • Material is to be used for non-commercial, personal use (not for sale and only in respect of an operator’s energy resource activity).

If a borrow pit application does not meet those conditions, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas is the regulatory authority.

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas has published the Borrow Pits on Public Lands Operational Guidance Fact Sheet outlining operational information on the application process for surface material dispositions issued by the AER. The Fact Sheet can be found here:

Additional resources can be found on the AER’s website or by contacting the AER’s Customer Contact Centre:
Phone: 403-297-8311
Toll-free: 1-855-297-8311
Email: [email protected]

Changes to the Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions

On April 15, 2021 there were changes made to the Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions (MSSC).

Further information can be found at:

Sand and gravel program review

Surface material extraction is necessary to build our infrastructure and will continue to play an essential role in Alberta’s future. Pit operations are regulated by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas and produce surface materials such as sand and gravel with a small number producing marl and clay. These surface materials are important non-renewable resources for Alberta’s economy and are found on public and private land. Extracting these materials must balance the economic and public benefits for Albertans while upholding high environmental standards to maintain biodiversity and healthy aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The department is committed to updating surface material extraction programs to reflect improvements in scientific knowledge as well as Albertans’ changing regulatory expectations. The department has been conducting a review and developed draft recommendations to improve oversight and efficiencies in Alberta’s surface material extraction program.

Thank you to all that submitted recommendations for the review. We appreciate your feedback.

To read a summary of this feedback, please see: What We Heard: Stakeholder Feedback on the Sand and Gravel Program Review.

Public lands disposition application requirements

The application requirements for new and amendment application submissions for dispositions (excluding agricultural dispositions) on public land managed by Environment and Protected Areas and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) can be found at:

Learn about the public lands disposition application requirements with our e-Course:


Connect with the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas Outreach Services:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 310-LAND (5263)
Toll free: 1-833-310-5869
Email: [email protected]

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