Minister of Energy announces new provincial mineral strategy

The bill, if passed, will move for the Alberta Energy Regulator to oversee the industry from research to resolution.

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Alberta’s Energy Minster Sonya Savage has unveiled a provincial mineral strategy, renewing regulations as the province looks to compete in an industry growing in other parts of the world.

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Savage introduced Bill 82: Mineral Resources Development Act in parliament Thursday afternoon to change how the province will regulate mineral and rare earth development throughout Alberta. The bill, if passed, will move the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to oversee the industry from research to resolution. It will also include resource conservation statutes around the industry.

The current regulatory framework was developed in 2002 and has the industry controlled by a number of government agencies and departments.

“What we aim to do is that one-stop regulation, full-life-cycle regulation, cradle-to-grave regulation within the Alberta Energy Regulation,” Savage told media before introducing the legislation.

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The strategy is expected to improve the regulatory framework in place and promote responsible resource development. The province said it will also increase public awareness of development of rare earths and metal resources and create a skilled workforce in the industry.

Savage said there is already interest from private industry ready to come to Alberta to explore mineral development. She said she expects Bill 82 to be passed this fall to make sure all the necessary processes are in place to give investors clarity going forward.

The World Bank has predicted a 500 percent increase in production of critical minerals as the world seeks to increase the use of clean energy.

Savage said it is too early to say how much revenue the industry could produce for the province, but noted that Canada has seen the development of 60 different minerals create $ 48 billion across the country in 2019.

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The framework comes at a time when there is increased attention around the globe in minerals and rare earth materials. Savage said Alberta is looking to capitalize on developing everything from lithium for batteries, to potassium and diamonds, to uranium for small reactors.

Savage said Alberta’s history of resource extraction, primarily in oil and gas, puts the province in a well-established position to be a leader in mineral development.

She said history provides the province with an educated workforce, as well as an environment that promotes resource development. She also noted the province’s low industry tax rate and recent moves to reduce the bureaucracy as benefits.

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“Our province is home to vast, untapped geological potential and we have an experienced workforce. Alberta has deposits throughout the province, many of which have been identified as critical and strategic minerals,” Savage said.

The framework presents short-term, intermediate and long-term goals for the industry. Savage said soon that it’s important to get all the regulatory pieces right to make sure there aren’t roadblocks for projects that want to get started. She said she expects lithium and saltstone projects to enter the province first.

“There we have to get all these pieces, right, because those investors, they have different jurisdictions where they can choose to invest, and so we compete,” Savage said. “But we had a fairly early interest from a lot of potential prospectors and researchers. So early, early stage, but I think it’s a good chance if we get the pieces right. “

Bill 82 also explains a number of other pieces of government policy around resource developments to explain the role of AER as the sole regulator of minerals. It does not include coal, sand or gravel in the frame.

More will come …

dshort@postmedia.com

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