Mining Act Modernization

Changes to Ontario’s Mining Act

The Mining Amendment Act, 2009, (Bill 173) was enacted in October 2009. A few changes took effect immediately such as the withdrawal of private lands from claim staking in Southern Ontario. The remaining amendments are being implemented in stages over time.

Phase One, implemented in 2011, focussed on private landowners: requiring notice of claim staking and, in Northern Ontario, the ability to apply to have lands withdrawn from staking, as well as less intrusive map staking of claims in Southern Ontario.

In 2012 and 2013, Phase Two:

  • Implemented new requirements for exploration plans and exploration permits for early stage mineral exploration
  • Clarified the requirements for Aboriginal consultation
  • Provided for the withdrawal from staking of locations meeting the criteria for sites of Aboriginal cultural significance
  • Implemented the Mining Act Awareness Program as a requirement for prospector’s licences and for those supervising early exploration projects
Mining Act Awareness Program

Every current holder of a prospector’s licence was required to complete the program by November 1, 2014. This free online program:

• Introduces the prospector to basic information on the mining sequence, staking claims, early exploration and Aboriginal consultation requirements;
• Emphasizes changes that have been made to the regulations; and
• Reaffirms the importance of having consideration for other users of public land.

Take the MAAP

Sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance

Since November 1, 2012, Aboriginal communities have been able to apply to have sites of Aboriginal cultural significance withdrawn to avoid potential conflict with prospectors who might stake mining claims.

Exploration Plans

Before undertaking certain early exploration activities, an exploration plan must be submitted and notification provided to any surface rights owner(s). Aboriginal communities potentially affected by activities proposed in an exploration plan are notified by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) and have an opportunity to provide feedback before the proposed activities can be carried out. Since April 1, 2013 exploration plans have become mandatory for prescribed activities.

Exploration Permits

Some early exploration activities will require an exploration permit. Those activities will only be allowed to take place once the permit has been approved by MNDM. Surface rights owners must be notified when applying for a permit. Aboriginal communities potentially affected by the exploration permit activities will be consulted and have an opportunity to provide comments and feedback before a decision is made on the permit. Effective April 1, 2013 exploration permits are mandatory for prescribed activities.

Voluntary Rehabilitation

Since November 1, 2012, provisions in the Mining Act have allowed individuals or companies to apply to voluntarily rehabilitate an existing mine hazard that they did not create on Crown-held land, without becoming liable for pre-existing environmental issues on the site.

Claim Staking

Since November 1, 2012, Global Positioning System (GPS) geo-referencing data has been required on the application to record a mining claim. MNDM has provided a set of standards to which to adhere. This requirement only applies to ground staked mining claims on lands that are not surveyed into lots and concessions.

Assessment Work Credits

Assessment work is prospecting and/or exploration work (trenching, blasting, diamond drilling, geological or geophysical surveys, etc.) that a mining claim holder must do every year to keep the mining claim in good standing.

Bulk Samples

Since November 1, 2012, the process for obtaining permission to test mineral content has changed and thresholds have been set for the amount of material that will be considered a bulk sample.  A bulk sample permit and an exploration permit are now both required to extract a sample and test mineral content on a mining claim.

Closure Plans

Since November 1, 2012, the rules for Aboriginal consultation have been formalized. Aboriginal consultation is now required prior to the submission of a certified closure plan or closure plan amendment. There are also provisions for facilitation (if required) to assist with the process.