Instructions, Definitions, and General Guidance for Exploration Permit Applications

What is the Exploration Permit Application process?

The following step by step process describes how an exploration permit application needs to be completed and submitted for review by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The early exploration proponent (“proponent”) should be aware that receiving an exploration permit does not exempt them from following and complying with other existing laws and regulatory requirements. Examples of approvals which may be needed are permits to take water (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)), road construction permits (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF)), and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) approvals related to fish habitat. For a more comprehensive but not complete list see Appendix 5.

Should a subsequent approval require a change in the activities or project please contact a Mineral Exploration and Development Consultant for advice as to implications to your Exploration Permit.  The Exploration Permit application form and forms related to the permit application process are available from the Central Forms Repository.

Consultation with Aboriginal Communities

Pursuant to the Mining Act, its regulations, and the Crown’s duty to consult, MNDM notifies Aboriginal communities which may exercise Aboriginal or treaty rights in the area of the proposed early exploration activities.  MNDM identifies these communities based on our current understanding, which continues to develop over time.

Aboriginal communities will be notified of permit applications.  Any comments they may have with respect to potential adverse effects of proposed activities on their Aboriginal or treaty rights will be provided to MNDM. Depending on comments received, MNDM may require proponent’s direct participation in the consultation process to further explain the proposed activities or to discuss and consider adjustments proponents may be willing to make to mitigate potential adverse effects identified, if any. MNDM will provide specific direction in this regard on a case-by-case basis, as necessary.

Proponents of exploration and development activities may also benefit from developing their own relationships with Aboriginal communities, which MNDM encourages.  Proponents who wish to contact Aboriginal communities which may be affected by proposed exploration activities in advance of submitting an exploration permit application should contact MNDM for guidance on which communities, if any, to contact.

Any discussions that proponents have directly with Aboriginal communities, whether those discussions are pursuant to direction received from MNDM or for their own business reasons, can help to inform MNDM’s decisions.  Where such discussions have occurred, proponents may be asked for additional information and details.

Further information about MNDM’s approach to Aboriginal consultation can be found in our policy: Consultation and Arrangements with Aboriginal Communities at Early Exploration.

Step 1: Pre-Submission Requirements

  • Ensure that the person that will be the Qualified Supervisor for the project has completed the required Mining Act Awareness Program .  When filling out the forms you will need the Mining Act Awareness Program Number (MAAP number).
  • If surface rights owners (SRO’s) exist for the project then fill out the Notice of Intent to Apply for Exploration Permit and send a copy of the draft permit application to the SRO.  Surface rights owners can be identified by performing a title search at the Land registry office closest to the project area.
  • If a permit renewal is being applied for (refer to Permit Renewals in Step 2) and SRO’s exist for the project you will need to fill out the Notice of Intent to Apply for an Exploration Permit Renewal.  Send a copy of the draft permit renewal application to the SRO.
  • The Proponent should keep a record of SRO(s) they have contacted, including information supplied, when it was supplied, and how it was supplied. The proponent should be prepared to provide this information to MNDM upon request.
  • If the person filling out the application is not the claim holder and is an agent they will need an agent letter from the claim holder (see Appendix 4 for an example of agent letter for permit or plan).
  • If the claim holder is a corporation the person filling out the application must be able to sign for the corporation or as an agent.

Step 2: Complete the “Exploration Permit Application”

  • Obtain an Exploration Permit Application Form.
  • Check yes or no if the proposed early exploration area within the project area is located within the boundaries of an existing closure plan.
  • At the top of the form in Part 1 check off whether the application is for a new permit, or an amendment to an existing permit.
  • If you already have an issued permit, amendments are required should a proponent:
    • Add or increase number of activities; increasing the scope of the project
    • Add tenure (any addition of geography or area).
  • An amendment will follow the same process as a new exploration permit application.
  • Other changes such as new claim holder, reducing tenure, appointing an agent, new qualified supervisor, or addresses may be treated as an information or administrative change; the proponent should contact the appropriate Mineral Exploration and Development Section to determine the process for adjusting the permit.
  • Complete the permit application ensuring all required information (claim list attachment, property and regional maps, SRO’s, and agent letters) is provided. All claims, leases or licenses of occupation included in the permit application must be contiguous.
  • If there are too many claims to list on the form attach a separate claim list instead of filling in the tenure identifying claim numbers in Section B and Section F of the form.
  • Fill out both the County/District/Region (required) and the Township/BMA Area/Municipality fields in Section A, if applicable. Go to a list of Counties, Regions and/or Districts in Ontario if you are not sure what County, District, or Region you are in.  A map of districts in northern Ontario is also available as well as a map of counties in southern Ontario.
  • Make sure the Exploration Permit Application is signed and dated by either the claim holder, officer of the corporation, or the agent.


  1. Prepare maps (Appendix 2) showing activities in detail in advance of filling out the Permit application.
  2. When planning an exploration program you may wish to consider adding 2 or 3 additional sites or activities proposed to give your program some flexibility.

Permit Renewals

  • Once a permit has expired it cannot be renewed; if this happens an applicant must re-apply for a new permit.
  • A proponent should submit a permit renewal at least 60 calendar days prior to the expiration of the exploration permit to allow for processing and consultation. Should the renewal process including consultation take longer than the expiration date the proponent will have to submit a new permit application.
  • A permit renewal application is for an existing permit and there can be no additions or changes to tenure or activities.
  • Obtain and complete the Exploration Permit Renewal Application Form. Ensure all required information (agent letters, maps, and tenure list) is attached.


  1. Review form to ensure that all activities completed have been noted and that all activities not completed have been recorded.
  2. Consider how the activities that have been completed have met the requirements for Provincial Standards
  3. If tenure has been removed due to expiry, cancellation or transfer, ensure maps and tenure list are updated.

Step 3: Submit the Completed “Permit Application”

  • Exploration Permit Applications can be submitted  by email to, or hard copy by fax, mail, or by person (refer to Questions and Submitting an Electronic or Paper Copy of an Exploration Permit Application);
  • Include all applicable attachments when submitting the documents to MNDM.
  • To assist in the timely review of the permit application, the proponent should start the permit application well ahead of the proposed start date of the project.
  • Print, save or email yourself a copy of the submitted pdf document;
  • The Exploration Permit Application must be detailed enough to ensure that ministry staff can readily determine what activity is proposed, where it is proposed to take place, and when it will be undertaken.
  • The accompanying maps must contain enough detail to ensure ministry staff and communities can locate the area and determine where the activities could occur to ensure appropriate consultation. Please see Appendix 2 which outlines permit map requirements. Examples of maps are provided in Appendix 4.
  • Incomplete applications may be returned to the applicant or otherwise could cause delays such as in the processing and circulation of the permit application. A sample permit application is provided in Appendix 4.  Common issues which delay Permit applications include:
    • Missing agent letter or authorizations to sign for other claim holders.
    • Maps without enough sufficient detailed information such as project locations, activity(ies) locations, scale bars or north arrows.
    • Maps not demonstrating a good regional location.
    • Missing the Qualified Supervisor’s Mining Act Awareness Program number.
    • Difference between claims listed in the exploration plan form and those shown on the Project map.
    • Missing signatures (claim holder’s or agent’s)

Step 4: MNDM Review, ER Posting and Aboriginal Consultation

  • Ministry staff will review the application for completeness.
  • MNDM will circulate the permit application to potentially affected Aboriginal communities requesting their comments with regard to the potential of the proposed activities to adversely affect their Aboriginal or treaty rights.  MNDM will consider comments received, if any, and work with proponents to respond.  Depending on comments received MNDM may also require proponents’ direct participation in the consultation process to further explain the proposed activities or to discuss and consider adjustments proponents may be willing to make to mitigate potential adverse effects identified, if any.  MNDM will provide specific direction in this regard on a case-by-case basis, if necessary.
  • Applications for new Exploration Permits and Permit Amendments will be posted on the Environmental Registry (ER) for a period of 30 days.
  • Comments received through the ER process, and any comments received from surface rights owners will be considered, and where appropriate the proponent may be asked to consider such comments.
  • 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 process 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.
  • • Please note permit applications are subject to all other applicable regulations (refer to Appendix 5 for examples).

Step 5 Permit Issuance or Refusal

  • The ministry will consider all comments received in making a decision on whether or not to issue an exploration permit.
  • The Director of Exploration is required to make a decision whether to issue the permit and, if so, any site-specific terms and conditions (e.g. timing restrictions to accommodate seasonal hunting, other traditional uses of the land), within 50 days of the circulation date; or
  • A Proponent will be advised in writing of the Director’s decision to refuse an exploration permit.

Step 6: Permit Implementation and Monitoring

  • Once in receipt of the approved exploration permit, an applicant may undertake the work in adherence with the prescribed requirements as set out in Ontario Regulation 308/12 under the Mining Act including the Provincial Standards for Early Exploration and any terms and conditions on the permit.
  • Ministry staff may inspect the site during the Exploration Permit activities, before commencement of the activities, or following completion of the activities, to ensure compliance with the issued Exploration Permit and associated regulations.
  • A copy of the approved Exploration Permit and supporting documentation (application with maps) should be available on site at all times during the course of the project.
  • Doing early exploration work without the required exploration permit or contravening the terms and conditions of an issued permit are offences under the Mining Act, which upon conviction, may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
  • All exploration plans and permits are posted on the MNDM website. Download the Exploration Plans & Permits Table.


  1. Ongoing communications with Aboriginal communities and/or SRO’s regarding the status of the project is encouraged to build better relationships.
  2. Keep in mind the Provincial Standards while performing the activities described in the exploration plan.
  3. Consider other regulatory requirements while performing the exploration plan activities on the project.

Questions and Submitting an Electronic or Paper Copy of an Exploration Permit Application

Exploration permit applications may be submitted in the following ways:

  • Email (preferred method): (.pdf format preferred)
  • Mail, in Person, or Fax (please mail or fax application to the office responsible for the administration of your exploration area):
    • Northwest - Thunder Bay Office (fax: 807-475-1112):
      Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
      Mineral Exploration and Development Section
      Suite B002, 435 James Street South
      Thunder Bay, ON   P7E 6S7
    • Northeast - Timmins Office (fax: 705-235-1660):
      Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
      Mineral Exploration and Development Section
      Ontario Government Office, P.O. Bag  3060
      5520 Hwy 101 East, E Wing
      South Porcupine, ON  P0N 1H0
    • South/Central - Sudbury Office (fax: 705-670-5803):
      Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
      Mineral Exploration and Development Section
      933 Ramsey Lake Road, B6
      Sudbury, ON, P3E 6B5

If you wish to speak with a Mineral Exploration and Development Consultant, please contact the appropriate Mineral Exploration and Development office.

  • Northwest - Thunder Bay Office (807-475-1123)
  • Northeast - Timmins Office (705-235-1625)
  • South/Central - Sudbury Office (705-670-5815) 

Appendix 1 - Map of Mineral Exploration and Development Office Regions

Map of Mineral Exploration and Development Office Regions

Appendix 2 – Map Submission Requirements for Permit Applications

Map Scale, Size, and Format Requirements:

  1. Regional maps should be between 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scale.  The maps should show exactly where in the province the project is located and include local identifiable features such as towns and cities.  Communities and the ministry should be able to determine the location of the project with ease.
  2. Property scale (Project) maps should be between 1:5,000 and 1:40,000
  3. Maps should not be larger than 11” by 17”. For larger properties, tiled and numbered maps may be submitted
  4. Combined size of the application and all attachments including maps must not exceed 10 MB.
  5. Acceptable map formats include pdf, png and jpg

Minimum Information Requirements for Maps:

  1. The location of exploration sites and activities should be defined on the property scale map.  A polygon or line can be used to depict activities such as trenching, stripping, line cutting and geophysics within 200 m accuracy.  A circle or polygon with a diameter of 200 m accuracy can be used to depict drill pad and pitting location(s).  Please see Appendix 4 for an example of a detailed property map
  2. Additional information, such as exploration trails and roads (use lines) and camps (polygon or circle) which may be constructed should also be shown similarly on the Property scale map within 100 m accuracy
  3. Activities indicated on the map should correspond with the activity and number indicated on the submission.  Appendix 4 has several maps which demonstrate this
  4. First Nation reserves and/or communities
  5. A graphic or bar scale
  6. A north direction arrow
  7. Lakes, streams and other notable topographic features, railways, roads, trails, power lines, pipelines and buildings
  8. Township boundary lines, mining claim, lease, licence of occupation or patent boundaries
  9. The mining claim, lease, licence of occupation, patent or parcel numbers of all mining land covered by the project
  10. Grid coordinate lines established for reference purposes (e.g. UTM coordinates)
  11. A descriptive list of all symbols used including those used to identify the location of prescribed activities being carried out on individual claim units


  1. The more specific and detailed a proponent is in the identification of the locations where the activity(ies) will be undertaken, the better MNDM, SRO’s, the public and Aboriginal communities will be able to understand the activity(ies) proposed. Sufficient detail is required to enable the determination of potential impacts.  An application that does not provide sufficient detail may delay the consultation process and permit application process timelines, or the application may be returned in order to be revised to provide greater detail.
  2. CLAIMaps IV can now be used to produce property and regional scale maps.  This application enables a proponent to add polylines, polygons, and point symbols to maps which can be used to represent activities and other important details such as proposed roads, trails and exploration camps.

Appendix 3 – Definitions

(section numbers for O. Reg. 308/12 unless otherwise indicated)

“circulation date” means the date on which a Director sends, by whatever means, an Exploration Plan or an application for an exploration permit to an Aboriginal community that the Director has identified for purposes of section 7 or 14;

“Director” means a Director of Exploration appointed under section 78 of the Mining Act;

“early exploration” means prospecting and mineral exploration, including those activities that fall within section 1 of Schedule 2 and section 1 of Schedule 3 but not including the activities of advanced exploration or mine production as they are defined in Part VII of the Mining Act;

“early exploration proponent” means a person who is a holder of a mining claim, mining lease, licence of occupation, for mining purposes and is conducting or proposes to conduct early exploration activities and includes:
     a) directors, officers, agents and employees of the early exploration proponent,
     b) partners, subsidiaries and affiliates of the early exploration proponent,
     c) contractors and subcontractors of the early exploration proponent,
     d) successors and assignees of the early exploration proponent;

“Provincial Standards for Early Exploration” means the current version of the document entitled Provincial Standards for Early Exploration published by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and posted on the ministry’s website;

“qualified supervisor” means an individual who has successfully completed the prescribed Prospector's Awareness program not more than five years before the proposed start of the early exploration activities and who provides advice to the early exploration proponent regarding any proposed early exploration activity. 

NOTE: These definitions are provided for convenience.  You should refer to and rely upon the official definitions contained in O. Reg. 308/12 or the Mining Act, as applicable, which will govern if there are any differences in wording from the versions provided here.

Appendix 4 – Example Forms, Maps, and Agent Letters

I. Example of a Regional Map

Example of a Regional Map

II. Example of a Property Map

Example of a Property Map

III. Example of an Agent Letter for a claim holder

Example of an Agent Letter for a claim holder

IV. Example of an Agent Letter for a claim holder that is a Corporation

Example of an Agent Letter for a claim holder that is a Corporation

V. Example of a Permit Form for a Company Claim Holder

Example of a Permit Form for a Company Claim Holder (page 1)Example of a Permit Form for a Company Claim Holder (page 2)Example of a Permit Form for a Company Claim Holder (page 3)Example of a Permit Form for a Company Claim Holder (page 4)

Appendix 5: Other Regulatory Considerations

The Proponent should ensure all other Legislation and Considerations apart from MNDM regulations are followed; examples of several of these are below.  This list is not exhaustive: