Surface Materials

Applications for exploration and extraction of sand, gravel, clay, marl, topsoil as well as peat operations are reviewed under the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR).

A brief description of the process is available in the following publications:

Application types include:

  • Conservation Operation Reclamation Plan (formerly Conservation and Reclamation Business Plans (CRBP))
  • Public Pit Licence (PPL)
  • Surface Materials Lease (SML)
  • Surface Materials Licence (SMC)

Forms are available at:

A listing of public pits in Alberta can be found at:

Guidelines for Acquiring Surface Material Dispositions on Public Land

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of the new Alberta Aggregate Allocation Directive, some of the information outlined in the current guidelines is out of date and is being updated shortly.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 manual addresses resource management objectives and gives direction for sound operational practices on public land. This updated manual provides surface material operators with:

  • Directions on how to develop and follow the required Conservation and Reclamation Business Plan (CRBP)/CORP that outlines how the operation will be conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner
  • Directions on how to evaluate and mitigate environmental issues

The Government of Alberta has developed supplemental guidelines for aggregate applications along the Athabasca River within the Woodlands Management Area to provide additional guidance to industry for required Conservation Reclamation Business Plan submission criteria within the specified area.

Effective May 17, 2011, aggregate operations along the Athabasca River Valley that fall within the Woodlands Management Area are now subject to complying with the following:

Best Management Practice User Manual for Aggregate Operators on Public Land

The "Best Management Practice User Manual for Aggregate Operators on Public Land" compliments the current "Guide to Surface Material Extraction on Public Land" by providing aggregate operators more detailed operational (on the ground) directions as how to effectively manage environmental issues associated with their operations. It consists of written procedures and diagrams of various environmental best management practices that could be incorporated into required Conservation and Reclamation Business Plans (CRBP) and implemented during construction/reclamation activities.

To view the document Best Management Practices User Manual For Aggregate Operators on Public Lands, please visit:

Annual Return (AR) and Annual Operating Report (AOR) New Submission Requirements

To implement the new required common reporting date for Annual Returns (AR) and Annual Operating Reports (AOR), the department has enhanced the Electronic Dispositions System (EDS) to electronically accept the submission of Annual Return AR and Annual Operating Reports (AOR).

The submission of an AR has been a manual process for many years. SML holders are required to submit the following each year:

  • The new Annual Return (AR) and Annual Operating Report (AOR) by January 31st.
  • Provide the volume of surface material removed the previous year, based on volumes removed in two reporting periods, from January 1 to March 31 and from April1-December 31.
  • Provide an estimate of volume of surface material to be removed from January 1 – March 31 of the next year.

Annual Returns will be submitted electronically as stated in Information Letter IL 2011-08, EDS Surface Material Annual Returns.

The following letter reminds clients to submit written confirmation confirming volumes of material reported for public work projects.

Under section 115 of the Public Lands Act Administration Regulation, aggregate removed from the land under the SML will be regarded as royalty exempt only when supplied free of charge and:

  1. Used by the Government of Alberta
  2. Used in the construction or maintenance of a public work owned by the province or a municipality in Alberta.

For more details, please refer to the forms section by following the link below to access the Public Works Confirmation Form under the Pits Mines & Quarries section of the AEP Forms page.

Audit of Surface Material Annual Returns.

All Surface material Annual Returns are subject to audit. Under Section 118 of the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR), operators must keep and maintain books and records substantiating their Annual Returns. PLAR also authorizes the Surface Material Auditor to audit the operator’s books and records for the purpose of verifying the royalty payable on surface materials removed under the lease or licence.


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Updated: Sep 19, 2018