On November 25th of 2021, the third reading for the Mineral Resource Development Act (Bill 82) was passed. This Bill was introduced by Alberta's Minister of Energy on November 4 of 2021, along with the contributions of the Mineral Advisory Council. This council had input from several stakeholders, including First Nations, Métis and Indigenous organizations.
Bill 82 demands for efficient practices in the public interest in the development of mineral resources in Alberta. This will control pollution and encourage the responsible management of wells, facilities, well sites, facility sites, mine sites, external discard dumps and processing plants through their life cycles. It will also manage the development of mineral resources as between licensees, permittees and approval holders, and in relation to the development and conservation of energy resources in Alberta. Overall with this Bill, the Alberta government intends to position the province as one of the main mineral producers in the growing sector. As well, it has marketed this Bill as helping to support a low-carbon economy in the future.
The Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan
The Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP) respects the roles, responsibilities and priorities of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments. This Plan is an opportunity for government, industry, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders to work together to build strengths and capitalize opportunities to support the minerals industry driving Canadian prosperity.
There are six strategic directions outlined in the plan:
- Economic development and competitiveness: business and innovation
- Advancing the participation of indigenous people
- The protection of the environment
- Science, technology and innovation : modern and innovative industry
- Communities welcome sustainable mineral development activities for the benefits they deliver
- Increased Canadian global leadership
More information can be found here
Bill 82: The Mineral Resource Development Act
Throughout the years, Alberta has not established a regulatory framework for their minerals industry because the mineral resources in Alberta are fragmented and the purview falls under multiple agencies. This has resulted in uncertainty, and the Bill 82 will centralize all mineral regulatory functions with the Alberta Energy Regulator (“Regulator”).
The Regulator will have the power to order any directions that are necessary to effect the purposes of the Bill such as:
(a) to provide for the economic, orderly, efficient and responsible development in the public interest of mineral resources in Alberta;
(b) to secure the observance of safe and efficient practices in the public interest in the development of mineral resources in Alberta;
(c) to provide for the responsible management of wells, facilities, well sites, facility sites, mines, mine sites, external mine discard dumps and processing plants throughout their life cycles;
(d) to afford each mineral resource owner the opportunity to obtain the owner’s share of the production of mineral resources;
(e) to effect the conservation and prevent the waste of mineral resources in Alberta;
(f) to manage the development of mineral resources as between licensees, permittees and approval holders and in relation to the development and conservation of energy resources in Alberta;
(g) to control pollution and to ensure the protection of the environment and public safety in the development of mineral resources in Alberta;
(h) to provide for the timely and useful collection, appraisal and dissemination of information relating to mineral resources in Alberta.
The powers given to the Regulator in relation to minerals will be similar to the existing regulation for the oil and gas sector. Also, once Bill 82 comes to force, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, RSA 2000 c E-12, the Geothermal Resource Development Act, the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act, RSA 2000, c N-3, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, the Pipeline Act and the Responsible Energy Development Act, SA 2012, c R-17.3, will be amended.
Main Takeaways of Bill 82 and Alberta's Mineral Resource Development Act
Bill 82 will represents a significant change to the regulatory framework governing Alberta's mineral industry. This is the information we have to keep in mind:
- It is not clear how mineral projects will be impacted by increased regulatory requirements and/or the adjustments to reflect the differences between these projects and the types of projects the AER has historically regulated.
- The new Act may release ease on repurposing oil and gas wells for mineral projects.
- When the Bill comes to force, the mineral sector will be faced with a new regulatory regime as early as the end of this year.
- Application of the AER's closure requirements to mineral developments.
- An increased load and burdens for the AER.
- Clients should be aware that the AER will be "new" to regulating many of these minerals.
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