Exploration and extraction applications and peat operations are reviewed under the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR). Application types include:
- Conservation Operation Reclamation Plan or CORP (formerly Conservation and Reclamation Business Plans or CRBP)
- Public Pit Licence (PPL)
- Surface Material Lease (SML)
- Surface Material Licence (SMC)
Borrow activities on public land
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, AEP is the regulatory authority.
AEP 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:
Aggregate Activities on Public Lands
Aggregate Land Review Request (ALR)
Application forms are available at AEP Forms.
A brief description of the review process is available in these publications:
- Aggregate Land Review Request Process (Sand and Gravel) and Content Requirements for Sketch Plans
- Alberta Aggregate (Sand and Gravel) Allocation Directive for Commercial Use on Public Lands and Q and A
For a list of public pits in Alberta see:
- Public Pit Listing (PDF, 100 KB)
Please Note: With the implementation of the new Alberta Aggregate Allocation Directive, some of the information outlined in the current guidelines is out of date and is being updated shortly. A new manual will be posted in the near future. Information pertaining to the Exploration and Conservation Operation Reclamation Plan (CORP)/Formerly CRBP is still relevant.
The guidelines provide surface material operators with:
- directions on how to develop and follow the required CORP/CRBP, which outlines how to conduct the operation in an environmentally sustainable manner
- directions on how to evaluate and mitigate environmental issues
The government has developed a supplementary manual to complement the Guide to Surface Material Extraction on Public Land. It is the Best Management Practices: User Manual for Aggregate Operators on Public Land.
It gives aggregate operators more detailed operational (on the ground) directions on how to effectively manage environmental issues.
It includes written procedures and diagrams of various environmental best management practices. These could be incorporated into the required CBRP/ CORP and implemented during construction/reclamation activities.
Athabasca River area
The government has developed supplemental guidelines for aggregate applications along the Athabasca River within the Woodlands Management Area. These provide additional guidance to industry for required CRBP / CORP submission criteria in that area.
Effective May 17, 2011, aggregate operations in the Woodlands Management Area of the Athabasca River Valley must comply with:
Annual returns and reports
There is a new required common reporting date ─ January 31 ─ for Annual Returns (AR) and Annual Operating Reports (AOR). To help with this, the department has enhanced the Electronic Dispositions System (EDS) to electronically accept the AR and AOR submissions.
The AR submission has been a manual process for many years. SML holders are required to provide the following:
- the volume of surface material removed the previous year based on
- volumes removed in 2 reporting periods, from January 1 to March 31 and April 1 to December 31
- an estimate of the volume of surface materials to be removed from January 1 to March 31 of the next year
- Surface Material Lease Annual Return (AR) submission common reporting date Directive
Annual Returns are to be submitted electronically as stated in Information Letter IL 2011-08, EDS Surface Material Annual Returns.
- Annual Return Submission Letter August 31, 2010 (PDF, 76 KB)
- Annual Return Submission Letter December 9, 2010 (PDF, 37 KB)
- Annual Return Submission Letter October 9, 2015 (PDF, 81 KB)
Definition of the Removal for the purpose of Surface Material Annual Return
“Removal of surface materials is defined as the act of removing surface material, by surface excavation, from either the surface or under the surface, of a Surface Material Lease or Surface Material Licence.
Royalty will apply to all surface material volumes removed from either the surface or under the surface and not remaining in stockpiles on the surface material dispositions, regardless of the end use of the resources.”
Public works projects
The following letter reminds disposition holders to submit written confirmation of volumes of material reported for public works projects:
- Public Works Confirmation and Public Works Form (PDF, 64 KB)
Section 115 of PLAR covers removing aggregate from the land under an SML. The removal is exempt from royalty only when supplied free of charge and:
- used by the Government of Alberta
- used to construct or maintain a public work owned by the province or an Alberta municipality
For more details, follow the link below to the Pits, Mines and Quarries section, where you can access the Public Works Confirmation Form:
Audit of Annual Returns
All surface material Annual Returns are subject to audit. Under Section 118 of the PLAR, operators must maintain books and records substantiating their Annual Returns.
PLAR also authorizes the surface material auditor to audit the books and records. This is done to verify the royalty payable on surface materials removed under the lease or licence.
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