Surface Material Applications

Sand & Gravel Program Review

About this 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 Parks 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.

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:

Update – New Public Lands Disposition Application Requirements

Effective April 28, 2017, the application requirements for new and amendment application submissions for dispositions (excluding agricultural dispositions) on public land managed by Environment and Parks (AEP) and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will be implemented.

Note: File Number for Consultation (FNC) requirements have been updated to provide clarity and to inform applicants of the new requirements.

Please continue to check this website for further information.

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

Please find further information regarding these changes to the application requirements at:

Sample Application Supplement Forms

As a part of these changes, Environmental Field Reports (EFRs), SMC Aggregate Field Reports, and SML Site Information Forms will be replaced by Application Supplements; web-based fillable documents that are easy to complete.

Please continue to check this webpage and Environment and Parks (AEP) website for further information.


Questions regarding these changes to public land disposition requirements can be directed to:

Environment and Parks (AEP) Information Centre
Call Toll Free Alberta: 310-3773
Outside Alberta: 1 780 944-0313
Toll Free: 1 877 944-0313
Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) Customer Contact Centre
Alberta: 403 297-8311
Toll Free: 1 855 297-8311

Application types include:

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

Forms are available at:

Listing of Public Pits in Alberta:

Peat Operations

This document provides the base requirements for a Conservation and Reclamation Plans for peat operations on private and public land.

Guidelines for Acquiring Surface Material Dispositions on Public Land

To implement the new Alberta Aggregate Allocation Policy for Commercial Use on Public Land (approved April 10, 2006), the department has replaced its outdated manual, Guide to Surface Material Extraction on Public Land, with its current manual:

The new 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) 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 "Supplemental Guidelines for Aggregate Operations, Woodlands Area - Athabasca River Valley".

Surface Materials Lease (SML) Site Information Form

All SML applicants (excluding peat) must complete the Site Information Form (SIF) and attach it to their SML Applications in Electronic Dispositions System (EDS).

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). For the First phase, target date Nov 13, 2011, EDS will be accepting AR submission. The Annual Operating Report (AOR) will be implemented in the second phase.

The submission of an AR has been a manual process for many years. Effective December 31, 2010, 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.

Manual submissions will be accepted until April 30, 2012 for 2011 and older Annual Returns. The process for submitting manually is described in the attached January 19, 2011 letter.

After April 30, 2012 all Annual Returns will be submitted electronically as stated in Information Letter IL 2011-08, EDS Surface Material Annual Returns.

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

Effective April 1, 2012, the Department implemented a new Surface Material Annual Returns audit program. 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: Apr 24, 2017