Defining Terms and Prescribing Exclusions for Alberta’s Mineral Resource Development
February 15, 2023
The Mineral Resource Development Regulation (Alberta Regulation 264/2022) was enacted by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (O.C. 415/2022) on December 21, 2022, pursuant to section 55 of the Mineral Resource Development Act. This regulation serves to define various terms for the purposes of the Act, prescribe exclusions, and impose a prohibition and an expiry date.
To begin, the regulation defines several terms used within the Act. For example, “enhanced recovery” is defined as the artificial or extrinsic means by which the increased recovery of a mineral resource is achieved. This includes techniques such as pressuring, cycling, pressure maintenance, or the injection of a substance or energy form into an underground formation. However, the definition excludes the injection of a substance or energy form for the sole purpose of lifting fluids in a well or stimulating the underground formation at or near the well by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or explosive means.
The term “mineral resources” is defined to include solid substances or elements extracted or recovered from naturally dissolved soluble components in groundwater, as defined in the Water Act. The regulation also defines “wasteful operations” as activities that cause or tend to cause a reduction in the quantity or quality of ultimately recoverable mineral resources, relative to what would be obtained under sound engineering and economic principles.
Furthermore, the regulation prescribes certain exclusions. Specifically, it stipulates that a brine processing plant as referred to in section 10.01(1) of the Activities Designation Regulation (AR 276/2003) and a brine storage pond as defined in section 2(2)(c) of the same regulation are not considered facilities for the purposes of section 1(1)(j)(ix) of the Act.
The regulation also imposes a prohibition that restricts the Regulator from granting a license or an amendment of a license for a well that is to be completed above the base of groundwater protection. This prohibition aims to protect the quality of groundwater resources.
Finally, the regulation includes an expiry date of January 31, 2028. This date ensures that the regulation is reviewed for ongoing relevance and necessity. After review, the regulation may be reposed in its present or amended form.
Overall, the Mineral Resource Development Regulation provides a framework for the responsible development of mineral resources in Alberta, Canada. It defines important terms, prescribes exclusions, prohibits certain activities, and includes an expiry date to ensure ongoing relevance and necessity.
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