Alberta’s landscape is rich in many ways: unparalleled scenery, towering mountains, vast prairies, boreal forests, and bountiful oil and gas resources. The geological strata of Alberta contain oil, oil sands, natural gas, and coal deposits.
The Mines and Minerals Act governs the management and disposition of rights for Crown-owned mines and minerals. The act is jointly administered by Alberta Energy, Alberta Environment and Parks, and the AER.
What We Regulate Under the Act
We are responsible for part 8 of the act, which relates to the exploration for mines and minerals in Alberta. We have this responsibility under the Responsible Energy and Development Act. Part 8 regulates
- exploration for subsurface minerals, including petroleum, natural gas, and other minerals; and
- exploration on both public and private lands.
Exploration takes place at the beginning of an energy project’s life cycle. For example, before drilling a well, companies must do the following:
- Mine or extract coal or oil sands bitumen. This first step determines what’s in the ground and whether it can be developed.
- Explore the surface and subsurface. This “geophysical (or seismic) exploration” might include drilling, building trenches, removing vegetation, or cutting grids.
We authorize and regulate geophysical or seismic exploration programs and activities under the Exploration Regulation 284/2006.
Read our fact sheet for more information about how we regulate under the Mines and Minerals Act.
What We Don’t Regulate
Our Mines and Minerals Act responsibilities are specific to energy resource development. Alberta Energy and Alberta Environment and Parks are responsible for administering the rest of the act.
Rules and Restricted Areas
There are 24 exploration directives. Each directive details rules for specific exploration activities under the Mines and Minerals Act and Schedule 1 of Alberta’s Exploration Regulation.
Exploration of restricted areas
Some lands in Alberta have restrictions in place for seismic operations. This interactive list created by the Government of Alberta identifies those areas. Search the list by county or municipal district, restricted area number, or legal land description.
Submit an Application
Companies must submit their Mines and Minerals Act applications using the appropriate exploration directive and related form, listed below.
Applicants must include two separate cheques in their request for a licence or permit. These cheques are for
- the exploration licence application fee, and
- the exploration licence deposit.
The security deposit should not be combined with any other required payment.
Our review process will vary based on the type of application. See the exploration directives under Forms and Guides, below, for details.
Geophysical Inspector Program
The Government of Alberta’s Geophysical Inspector Program enforces both the Mines and Minerals Act and the Exploration Regulation. The inspectors conduct random inspections of geophysical and seismic projects to ensure that companies follow legislation. Visit the Alberta Environment and Parks website for more information.
For inquiries about geophysical activities or our inspections, please email Exploration@aer.ca.
Companies must consider the following exploration directives, forms, letters, and guides when applying for exploration activities under the Mines and Minerals Act.
Our regulatory requirements set out what companies must do in their day-to-day geophysical operations to ensure that they are complying with exploration regulations. The following exploration directives advise operators on how to conduct their field activities in accordance with the regulations. Exploration forms must be completed and submitted as part of our application process.
- ED2006-01: Development of Exploration Directives [PDF]
- ED2006-02: Restricted Exploration Areas [PDF]
- ED2006-03: Review of Program Approvals and Conditions [PDF]
- ED2006-04: Release of Program Information [PDF]
- ED2006-05: Application for License or Permit [PDF]
- ED2006-06: Application for Exploration Approval [PDF]
- ED2006-07: Geophysical Temporary Field Authorization [PDF]
- ED2006-08: Extension to an Exploration Approval [PDF]
- ED2006-09: Final Plan Submissions [PDF]
- ED2006-10: Notice to Relevant Department Authority [PDF]
- ED2006-11: Notice to Relevant Land Authorities and Holders of Forest Management Agreements (FMA) and Timber Licenses [PDF]
- ED2006-12: Change in Designated Program Permittee [PDF]
- ED2006-13: Operation of Exploration Equipment [PDF]
- ED2006-14: Authorization for Testing and Use of Products in Exploration [PDF]
- ED2006-15: Distance Requirements [PDF]
- ED2006-17: Flowing Holes and Encountering Gas [PDF]
- ED2006-18: Charges in Shot Holes and Depth of Shot and Test Holes That Exceed Maximum Levels [PDF]
- ED2006-19: Temporary Abandonment of Shot Holes and Test Holes [PDF]
- ED2006-20: Permanent Abandonment of Shot Holes and Test Holes [PDF]
- ED2006-21: Clearing of Vegetation on Road Allowances [PDF]
- ED2006-22: Cleanup of Debris, Refuse and Other Material [PDF]
- ED2006-24: Request For Transfer of Licence [PDF]
- ED2006-25: Cancellation Licence or Permit [PDF]
- ED2006-26: Letter of Clearance [PDF]
Exploration Guides and Policies
- Geophysical Field Report Policy and Procedures Document [PDF]
- Proposed Seismic Operations in Zone 1 [DOC]
- Application for Exploration Licence or Permit [DOC]
- Application for Unique Identification Number [DOC]
- Flowing Hole Report for Geophysical Operations [DOC]
- Geophysical Program Site Condition Report and Application for Letter of Clearance on Public Lands [DOC]
- Geophysical Site Condition Report for Programs Conducted Within Surveyed Road Allowance [DOC]
- Preliminary Geophysical Application [DOC]
- Final Plan – Statutory Declaration for No-Entry [DOC]
- Geophysical Field Report (GFR) Form [DOC]
- Notice of Intent for a Geophysical Program [DOC]
- Final Geophysical Program Information Cover Sheet [DOC]
- Final Plan – New Cut Summary Data Sheet [DOC]
- Commencement Notification to Relevant Department Authority [DOC]
- Completion Notification to the AER [PDF]