The primary industries in Alberta are Energy, Lumber, and farming and ranching.
While gold and other mining operations still exist from the time of the Klondike gold rush, they have diminished in importance as oil and gas extraction have achieved dominance in the 1980s and 1990s.
Vast beds of coal are found extending for hundreds of miles, a short distance below the surface of the plains. The coal belongs to the Cretaceous beds, and while not so heavy as that of the Coal Measures in England is of excellent quality. In the valley of the Bow river, alongside the Canadian Pacific railway, valuable beds of anthracite coal are still worked. The usual coal deposits of Alberta are of bituminous or semi-bituminous coal. These are largely worked at Lethbridge in southern Alberta and Edmonton in the centre of the province. Many other parts of the province have pits for private use.
Notable gas reserves were discovered in the 1890s, when the town of Medicine Hat began using gas for lighting the town, and suppling light and fuel for the people, and a number of industries using the gas for manufacturing.
Since the early 1940s, Alberta had supplied oil and gas to Canada and the United States. The Athabasca river region, as well as localities far north on the Mackenzie river, produce oil for internal and external use. Natural gas has been found at several points, and in 1999, the production of natural gas liquids (ethane, propane, and butanes) totaled 172.8 million barrels, valued at $2.27 billion. Alberta also holds a 13% share of the U.S. natural gas market.
In 1999, Lumber products from Alberta were valued at $4.1 billion of which 72% were exported around the world. Since forests cover approximately 59% of the province's land area, the governmnet allows about 23.3 million cubic metres to be harvested annually from the forests on public lands.
In the past, cattle, horses and sheep were reared in the southern prairie region on ranches or smaller holdings. Currently Alberta produces cattle valued at over $3.3 billion, as well as other livestock in lesser quanities. In this region irrigation is widely used. Wheat, accounting for almost half of the $2 billion agricultural economy, is supplimented by canola, barley, rye, sugar beets, and other mixed farming.