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This page summarizes our reclamation requirements for mines in Alberta. Jump a section to learn more:

Our reclamation requirements vary depending on the type of energy project or development. Learn more on our Reclamation page.

General Mine Reclamation Requirements

When we approve a coal or oil sands mine or processing plant under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), this approval comes with terms and conditions for reclamation.

These include site-specific requirements for land conservation and reclamation during site construction and operation, such as soil salvage and storage.

The reclamation requirements in an EPEA approval are not comprehensive. Depending on the type of development, additional reclamation requirements may apply, such as those set out in other legislation (e.g., the  Coal Conservation Act or the Public Lands Act), or in relevant regulatory policy (e.g., Land-use Framework regional plans).

Coal Mine and Processing Plants

More Info on Coal

At the end of a mining project's life, the company that owns the coal mine must remove all infrastructure, abandoning the site, and returning the land to an equivalent capability compared to its pre-development state.

We work with the Government of Alberta to ensure that Albertans are protected from paying mine closure costs. The Mine Financial Security Program manages liabilities associated with the costs of reclaiming coal mines and coal processing plants.

Under an EPEA approval, companies must prepare for reclamation throughout the life cycle of a coal mine. Companies must submit several plans and reports to guide progressive reclamation throughout the life of a mine. Depending on the type of mine and stage of development, our operational requirements could include

  • mine reclamation plan,
  • reclamation monitoring, and
  • annual conservation and reclamation report.

Obtaining a Reclamation Certificate
When all of our requirements have been met, including achieving the approved reclamation outcome, the company can apply for a reclamation certificate. Learn what this certificate means on our  Reclamation page.

Before applying for a reclamation certificate for a coal mine or coal processing plant, companies should review our reclamation certificate application checklist for EPEA-approved activities and our list of frequently asked questions for more information.

Learn more about application process in Manual 020: Coal Development.

Coal Exploration Programs

Companies with approved coal exploration operations can operate for a maximum of five years—two years for operations and three years for reclamation. We encourage companies to complete reclamation within one year of the surface disturbance.

If a company is unsuccessful in reclaiming a site within five years, it can submit a miscellaneous lease application to us for environmental monitoring reclamation research to remove unsuccessfully reclaimed areas from the program. The company may then apply for a reclamation certificate for the reclaimed area.

Companies reclaiming coal exploration programs must also follow the requirements listed in the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations.

Companies have two full growing seasons to complete reclamation and three full growing seasons to apply for a reclamation certificate. More information and a list of requirements are provided in Coal and Oil Sands Exploration Reclamation Requirements from Alberta Environment and Parks.

Annual Reports

Companies are required to submit reports as per the conditions of their approval(s) and of the legislative requirements associated with those approval(s). The AER requires companies to submit reports throughout the entire life cycle of developments and requirements vary based on the phase of the project. The frequency for submitting reports is typically on annual or semi-annual basis. Failure to do so may lead to compliance and enforcement action.

Oil Sands Mine and Processing Plants

Under an EPEA approval, companies must prepare for reclamation throughout the life cycle of an oil sands mine. Companies must submit several plans and reports to guide progressive reclamation throughout the life of the mine. Depending on the stage of development, our operational requirements could include

  • research,
  • life-of-mine closure plan,
  • mine reclamation plan,
  • annual reclamation material salvage and placement plan, and
  • annual reclamation progress tracking report.

The Mine Financial Security Program manages liabilities associated with the costs of reclaiming oil sands mines and oil sands processing plants.

Obtaining a Reclamation Certificate
When all of our requirements have been met, including achieving the approved reclamation outcome, the company can apply for a reclamation certificate. Learn what this certificate means on our Reclamation page.

Our reclamation certificate application checklist for EPEA-approved activities should be used by companies to reclaim coal mines and coal processing plants. See our list of frequently asked questions for more information.

Please note: These requirements for reclamation ensure that fluid tailings are reclaimed progressively to eventually become part of a self-sustaining ecosystem, as required by the Tailings Management Framework.

Oil Sands Exploration Programs

Companies with approved oil sands exploration operations can operate for a maximum of five years—two years for operations and three years for reclamation. We encourage companies to complete reclamation within one year of the surface disturbance.

If a company is unsuccessful in reclaiming a site within five years, it can submit a miscellaneous lease application to us for environmental monitoring reclamation research to remove unsuccessfully reclaimed areas from the program. The company may then apply for a reclamation certificate for the reclaimed area.

Companies reclaiming oil sands exploration programs must also follow the requirements listed in the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations.

Obtaining a Reclamation Certificate
Companies have two full growing seasons to complete reclamation and three full growing seasons to apply for a reclamation certificate. More information and a list of requirements are provided in Coal and Oil Sands Exploration Reclamation Requirements from Alberta Environment and Parks.

Annual Reports
We require companies with approved oil sands programs to submit an annual report to us, within 60 days of March 31 every year of the program, until a reclamation certificate is issued to the company.

Each annual report must include

  • requirements consistent with section 7.1.5 of the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations
  • the area of new disturbance cleared or used as approved under the program;
  • any sites added to the program that we have authorized;
  • the total area of intensely used (i.e., disturbed) lands included in the program;
  • a listing of all core hole sites or accesses converted to disposition under the Public Lands Act;
  • the total area of lands within the program cleared but not explored to date and the plan for completion; and
  • any other pertinent information relevant to the program.

Annual and final reports for exploration on private land must be submitted in accordance with the Code of Practice for Exploration Operations to @email.