In 2008 we performed an audit of the systems the then Department of Sustainable Resource Development used to manage the province’s sand and gravel resources. That department is now the Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.
We made five recommendations to the department in 2008. In 2010 we followed up on one recommendation relating to royalty rates for sand and gravel and concluded that the department had implemented this recommendation. In the current audit we followed up on the following:
- enforcement of reclamation obligations
- quantity of aggregate removed
- information management
What we found
Six years after we made the above recommendations, we have had to repeat two of them. The department has not implemented an effective process to carry out its responsibilities to enforce land reclamation obligations; nor has it verified aggregate removed by operators.
The department has developed an integrated system for capturing and consolidating information throughout the life of an aggregate holding to facilitate testing of operators’ compliance with their legal obligations.
What needs to be done
The department needs to:
- reassess and improve its processes for inspecting aggregate holdings on public land and improve its process to enforce land reclamation requirements
- improve its systems to verify quantities of aggregate reported as removed by industry from public lands so that all revenue due to the Crown can be determined and recorded in the department’s financial statements
Why this is important to Albertans
We did the original audit to determine whether the department was effectively managing Alberta’s sand and gravel resources, and was fulfilling its responsibilities for environmental stewardship of public lands. Albertans should know whether the department has systems to verify aggregate that operators remove, so that the department can ensure that it is collecting all royalties due to the government. Albertans should also know whether operators comply with legislation and whether there is a risk that taxpayers may have to assume costs of land reclamation because of operators’ possible non-compliance with legislation.