Alberta’s mineral strategy, legislation could pave the way for budding industry

The Alberta government has launched a strategy it hopes will help the province become an international player in mineral extraction.

The concept, Renewing Alberta’s Mineral Future, should attract investment and create job opportunities due to the global demand for metallic minerals, the government said in a release Thursday.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage says Alberta has the potential to be a leader in this sector.

“We have the necessary infrastructure in place to support an expanded and growing mineral sector. And we have a long track record as a global relief leader in responsible resource development,” she said.

“These are all advantages that Alberta wasn’t leveraging until now.”

The last provincial mineral strategy was written nearly 20 years ago and was largely forgotten during a period of rapid oil and gas development.

But Savage says data from a century of core samples already drilled by the oil and gas industry confirmed Alberta’s mineral wealth is ready to be developed.

“We know the core samples from the surface to the depth of a well … so I think we have some advantage in mineral mapping and being able to digitize that and understand where the resources are,” she said, adding this will be another attraction for investors.

The province is looking at capitalizing on minerals such as lithium, uranium, vanadium, rare earth elements, potash and diamonds.

Bill 82

On Thursday, the government announced new legislation, the Mineral Resource Development Act (Bill 82), to establish the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) as the lead authority for the province’s mineral resources.

Savage says that before this bill, oversight for minerals in Alberta was split among multiple departments and agencies.

“This kind of one-window approach would provide regulatory clarity and predictability for industry, while also protecting the best interests of Albertans,” she said.

The passing of the bill would also increase investor confidence and ensure responsible development, according to the release.

This map shows where Alberta has metallic and industrial minerals. (Alberta Geological Survey)

Green energy

Another item highlighted in the strategy is the importance of using the minerals to develop green energy.

Earth minerals, such as lithium, are needed to manufacture batteries, flatscreens and energy storage cells for electric vehicles.

Savage says this initiative will help to power a lower carbon future.

“Metallic and industrial minerals are vital in supporting the deployment of clean energy technologies and overall economic growth.”

She adds that coal, sand and gravel will not be included in the strategy.

The AER has outlined key areas to ensure Alberta’s mineral future happens quickly, safely and does not create long-lasting environmental impacts, says Savage.

The strategy was developed in collaboration with the Mineral Advisory Council, which had input from industry stakeholders and Indigenous organizations.

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