Exploration Permits

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) has introduced a new regulation for exploration plans and permits, with graduated requirements applying to early exploration activities with low to moderate impact undertaken on mining claims, mining leases and licenses of occupation.  Those proposing to undertake moderate impact exploration permit activities (early exploration proponents) may apply for an exploration permit beginning November 1, 2012

Effective April 1, 2013 exploration permits are mandatory for prescribed activities.

Early exploration activities that require an exploration permit include:

  • Line cutting, where the width of the line is more than 1.5 metres.
  • Mechanized drilling, for the purpose of obtaining rock or mineral samples, where the weight of the drill is greater than 150 kilograms.
  • Mechanized surface stripping (overburden removal), where the total combined surface area stripped is greater than 100 square metres and up to advanced exploration thresholds, within a 200-metre radius.
  • Pitting and trenching (rock), where the total volume of rock is greater than 3 cubic metres and up to advanced exploration thresholds, within a 200-metre radius.

How to apply for an exploration permit

  1. Completion of an exploration permit application form: This form summarizes the proposed early exploration activity and the timing of the activity. Early exploration proponents must provide maps of the general location of the project and where the proposed activity will take place.  They must also confirm that they have a qualified supervisor who has completed the Mining Act Awareness Program (MAAP).
  2. Notification of surface rights owners: Early exploration proponents are required to provide notice of their intent to conduct early exploration activities and should include with that notice a draft copy of the exploration permit application to those whose property is within the mining claim, lease or licence of occupation area that will be explored. Surface rights owners can send written comments to the Director of Exploration (MNDM), at the Sudbury, Thunder Bay or Timmins office, and the proponent.
  3. Consultation with Aboriginal communities: Early exploration proponents are encouraged to consult Aboriginal communities, as identified by MNDM, early in the process, even prior to submitting an application for an exploration permit. If consultation occurs prior to the submission of an application, an Aboriginal consultation report should accompany the application when submitted.  When an application for an exploration permit is received, MNDM will provide a copy to Aboriginal communities and request that those communities provide comments, if any, to the proponent and to the Director of Exploration.  The date that a copy of the application is sent to Aboriginal communities is referred to as the circulation date for the purposes of the regulations.
  4. Consideration of comments: The ministry and the early exploration proponent will consider comments provided from Aboriginal communities and the proponent may be required to take additional steps to consult with communities, as directed by the ministry. Applications will also be posted on the Environmental Registry and comments received through that process, and any comments received from surface rights owners, will be considered.  Comments received will assist the ministry in making a decision as to whether or not to issue an exploration permit, and may result in site specific terms and conditions being included in an exploration permit.
  5. Temporary hold:  The time to process an application for an early exploration permit is expected to take between 31 and 50 days from the circulation date.  That timeframe can be temporarily held where additional time is needed to, for instance, conduct additional consultation with Aboriginal communities or to align with other ministry processes such as obtaining a bulk sample permission.
  6. Permit decision: Unless the process has been placed under a temporary hold, the Director of Exploration is required to make a decision whether to issue the permit and, if so, under what site specific terms and conditions, within 50 days of the circulation date.  Early exploration proponents may commence their activities once an exploration permit has been issued.  All exploration permit activities must be performed in accordance with Provincial Standards for Early Exploration

An exploration permit will be effective for a period of three years from the day issued.  An exploration permit can be amended or renewed by the Director of Exploration.

Exploration Permits FAQ

When do exploration permits become mandatory?

Submission of an exploration permit is voluntary beginning November 1, 2012.  Exploration permits will be mandatory as of April 1, 2013.  If you started exploration work before April 1st and it includes an activity that requires an exploration permit, you must have an exploration permit in effect as of April 1, 2013 to continue that activity. 

What fees are associated with submitting an exploration permit?

There are no fees associated with submitting an exploration permit during the voluntary phase-in period.  Fees may, however, be instated once exploration permits become mandatory.

How long does it take for a permit to be approved?

Unless the process has been placed under a temporary hold, the Director of Exploration is required to make a decision whether to issue the permit and, if so, under what site specific terms and conditions, within 50 days of the circulation date. The early exploration proponents may commence their activities once an exploration permit has been issued.

How will I know which Aboriginal communities to consult?

A. Contact a Mineral Exploration and Development Consultant at an MNDM office near you and they will identify which Aboriginal communities you must consult. The policy on Consultation and Arrangements with Aboriginal Communities at Early Exploration provides clarity and guidance to proponents for carrying out consultation requirements with Aboriginal communities.

Am I responsible for posting my permit application to the Environmental Registry(ER)?

No, MNDM will post a summary to the Environmental Registry (ER).

Do I need to take all comments received into account?  Do I need to show MNDM proof that I’ve modified my plan according to the comments?

While we would encourage you to consider all comments received from Aboriginal communities, consultation is concerned with potential adverse effects on a community’s Aboriginal and treaty rights. 

Your Aboriginal Consultation Report should show how those potential effects have been considered in the plan, including any proposals to mitigate potential adverse effects, such as changes made to the timing or location of activities.  The policy on Consultation and Arrangements with Aboriginal Communities at Early Exploration provides clarity and guidance to proponents for carrying out consultation requirements with Aboriginal communities.

Is there a penalty if I don't do all the exploration permit activities?

No.

If I do not notify the surface rights owners, will MNDM notify them for me?

No, MNDM will not notify them.  You are responsible for notifying the surface rights owner and you will be asked to certify that you have done so when you fill out your Exploration Permit Application. You are expected to keep records should the notification be questioned.  The surface rights owner(s) can be identified by performing a title search at a Land Registry Office.

What exploration activities can I conduct without an exploration plan or permit and can I conduct them while I wait for approval?

There are a number of exploration activities that do not require a plan or permit and may be conducted while waiting for a plan or permit is effective.  These may include the following:

  • Prospecting activities such as grab/hand sampling, geochemical/soil sampling, geological mapping
  • Stripping/pitting/trenching below thresholds for Permits
  • Transient Geophysical Surveys such as radiometric, magnetic
  • Other baseline data acquisition such as taking photos, measuring water quality, etc.

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