Coal Exploration Program


Coal Exploration Program

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has a mandate to approve and regulate the use of public land in Alberta for coal exploration activities under the following legislations:

  • Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act—The Code of Practice for Exploration Operations is under this act.
  • Public Lands Act—Section 20 of the act authorizes the use of public land.

Manual 008: Oil Sands and Coal Exploration Application Guide includes application requirements, processes, and expected timelines for oil sands exploration and coal exploration programs to help industry plan its programs and understand the regulatory process.

Notifications under the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations for coal on private/patented lands are sent to

Coal companies may apply for exploration programs without necessarily having the coal rights. However, most companies do have these rights before applying.

Application Submission

The applicant will submit its Coal Exploration Program (CEP) application to by e-mail and will include all documentation required by schedules I and II of the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations.

Within five days of the application`s submission, a public notice of application will be posted for 30 days, during which time the public may submit a statement of concern (SOC) about the application.

Review Process for Coal Exploration

Once an application is submitted, it is reviewed for administrative completeness, and if it is determined acceptable, it is sent to the land use officer for a technical review.

Once the land use officer has reviewed the application package, the officer will recommend approving the request, asking for more information through a supplementary information request, rejecting the application based on incompleteness, or refusing the application based on merit. The accepted application will then proceed to regulatory review.

A land analyst does the regulatory review, which includes reviewing the First Nations consultation decision for consistency. There is also a check to see if any SOCs have been registered against the application. If an SOC has been received, the statement of concern application review process is initiated to determine whether the project needs to go through a hearing.

Once all requirements have been met, a notice of decision, which includes operating conditions, will be issued for the program.

Application Timelines

The processing time for this application is 60 business days.

Note: it could be more than 60 days if an SOC is registered against the application.