About Mineral Ownership

Mineral Ownership refers legal possession and the right to win, work and recover specific minerals from under a parcel of land. Alberta has surface rights mineral owners and mineral rights owner, some settlers may own rights to both. The individual(s) who owns the surface rights would own the surface and substances such as sand and gravel but not the minerals. The company or individual who owns the mineral rights owns all mineral substances found on and under the property. There are often different surface and mineral owners on the same land. The mineral owner has the right to explore for and recover the minerals but at the same time must do this in a reasonable manner so as to not significantly affect use of the surface. Mineral ownership is defined in detail in the Mines and Minerals Act External link, and its associated regulations. Mineral rights are registered in accordance with the Land Titles ActExternal link.

The Crown owns 81% of the mineral rights (approximately 53.7 millon hectares of land).
Non-Crown mineral rights (approximately 19% of Alberta's lands) are owned by;

Category (Original Grantee) 

Area (hectares) 

% of the Province 

 Federal (National Parks, Indian Reserves)



 Companies (CPR, CN Rail, HBC...)



 Private Individuals (Homesteaders)*






Non-Crown Minerals total



Ownership mapexternal link icon
* Homesteaders or Freehold Landowners have the responsibility to pay Freehold Mineral Tax on revenue derived from production.                


​Date ​Authority​Decision Result ​
​1670​King of England ​granted approximately 1 billion acres of land (about half of Canada) to two explorers ​Eventually they formed the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).
​1870​The Dominion government negotiated with the HBC for approximately 4.5 million acres of land​Returning land rights to the Canadian government
​1872 ​Early settlers

obtained mineral rights under the Dominion Lands Act (Canada)

Ownership was acquired by occupying the land and performing certain improvements over three years.
​1887 Tthe Dominion government ​changed the Dominion Lands Act to reserve minerals in the name of the Crown.​Settlers were no longer entitled to mineral rights.
​1880Tthe Government of Canada​gave the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) a main line grant of $25 million and lands for construction of the transcontinental railway.

​The land grant was 25 million acres (7.4 million hectares of land, 4 million hectares of which was in Alberta). Settlers could purchase land from CPR including the mineral rights.

​1902 ​CPR ​began to reserve some mineral rights from sale depending on location by 1912 CPR reserved all mines and minerals from most sales of land ​
​1917 The Government of Canada​​under the Soldier Settlement Board (SSB)​World War one vetrans could apply for assistance to establish a farm.
​1930​The Government of Canada ​The Natural Resources Transfer Act moved mineral rights from
Canada to Alberta for 53.7 million hectares

​This is approximately 81 per cent enabling Albert to offer rights for public sale.

​2010 Alberta Justice ​​negotiated the transfer of mineral rights for the SSB lands from Canada to Alberta

A cash settlement of approximately $31.5 million and the transfer and control of;

  •  265 other federally-owned mineral titles and 7 associated mineral leases;
  • and 212 SSB mineral titles and 89 associated mineral leases

Determining Ownership
To determine who owns mineral rights you can obtain a land title search by;

Freehold Landowners have the responsibility to pay Freehold Mineral Tax on revenue derived from production. 

Landowner rights

*Accretion is a gradual natural process of permanent recession of a water body resulting in transformation of landscape from a bed and shore to dry upland. Under the section 89 of the Land Titles ActExternal link icon, any riparian owner (owner whose parcel is adjacent to a body of water or a stream) might apply to have his/her title amended. 

Mineral Accretion Application Process

  • Fill out and file the Accretion Application form A found within the Service Alberta Land Titles Procedures Manual, Surveys - Natural Boundary changes (SUR 12)external link icon

  • If approved, Mineral Accretion Application restriction is temporarily placed on the applied lands.

  • We confirm the actual accretion on the surface occurred with Water Boundariesexternal link icon

  • A Registered Survey planexternal link iconmay be required if the accretion process is not complete i.e. some of the water body still remains in the area.

  • Consent of the impacted lessee(s) is required (if there is any active mineral tenure).

  • Successful applicants will obtain a Crown consent letter (drafted in collaboration with the department's legal services) describing the accreted lands to be added to their title.

  • Amendment to applicant’s Mineral Certificate of Title is handled by Land Titlesexternal link icon.

  • Any impacted mineral tenure (leases & licenses) will be amended as a result.

  • An undertaking satisfactory to the Department and to the lessee(s) that, upon amendment of the freehold title, the accreted minerals will be included in the freehold lease on the same terms as to rental and royalty as the P&NG rights presently granted under the freehold lease.