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 Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM).

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, Conservation and Parks (MECP)), 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. An Exploration Permit must be applied for through the Mining Lands Administration System (MLAS), forms related to the permit application process are available from the Central Forms Repository, and this includes the Activity Details Report form.

Consultation with Aboriginal Communities

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

Aboriginal communities will be notified of permit applications that have been submitted.  Any comments they may have with respect to potential adverse effects of proposed activities on their Aboriginal or treaty rights will be provided to ENDM. Depending on comments received, ENDM 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. ENDM 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 ENDM 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 ENDM 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 ENDM or for their own business reasons, can help to inform ENDM’s decisions.  Where such discussions have occurred, proponents may be asked for additional information and details.

Step 1: Pre-Submission Requirements

  • A claim holder, lessee or licence of occupation holder must be enrolled in MLAS. Existing clients would have been provided a client number to enroll in MLAS, whereas new clients would need to register as a ENDM client to enroll in MLAS. A valid email address is required to enrol into MLAS.
  • A Submitter of an exploration permit application must have a ONe-Key account.
  • Ensure that the person that will be the Qualified Supervisor for the project has completed the required Mining Act Awareness Program.  If the Mining Act Awareness Program is not complete, MLAS will not allow the permit application submission. A Qualified Supervisor can update their MAAP in MLAS.
  • If surface rights owners (SRO’s) exist for the project then the proponent must fill out the Notice of Intent to Submit an Exploration Permit and send a copy of the draft exploration permit application to the SRO.  SRO’s can be identified by performing a title search at the Land registry office closest to the project area.
    NOTE: This is not done automatically in the MLAS system.
  • If a permit renewal is being applied for (refer to Permit Renewals in Step 2 below) 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 ENDM upon request.
  • If the Submitter is not the claim holder they must be designated an Agent for the claim holder in order to submit. This can be done through the claim holder’s MLAS profile under - Client Management > Manage Agents.
  • If the claim holder is a corporation the person submitting the exploration permit application must be designated an Agent for the corporation in MLAS.

Step 2: Submission of an Exploration Permit Application in MLAS

New Permit Applications

  • To ensure the work being proposed in an exploration permit application can be carried out at the time a proponent wishes, it is the responsibility of the proponent to start working on the exploration permit application well ahead of the proposed start date for the project.
  • Sign into ONe-Key using ONe-Key ID and password. Once signed in choose the ONe-Key service link for MLAS.
  • Select Early Exploration Activities from the left Menu. Menu items will expand.
  • Click on Submit Plan/Permit for Early Exploration Activities. Follow the steps within the Submit Plan/Permit for Early Exploration Activities section of MLAS.
    • Create Submission – Include client number for claim holder/company, read and acknowledge the disclaimer.
      NOTE: Once a draft submission is created it will be saved for 180 days.  A submission can be saved at any time at the bottom of the screen with the save button.  Any information entered into a submission will be kept at the time it is saved.
    • Select Tenures – List the tenure numbers associated with the cell/boundary claims, leases or licences of occupation that will be covered by the permit application. Tenure can be selected in 3 ways: spatially using the Map Viewer, comma delimited list, or by selection from a list for a proponent. The Map Viewer will only allow you to pick cell/boundary claims. In the MLAS system amendments to the tenure cannot be made past this step.
      NOTE: Tenure must be contiguous to be valid for a permit application submission.
    • Enter Project Activities – Select the activities from the list of permit level or non-prescribed activities.  Plan level activities can also be included in permit applications.  An application with a combination of plan and permit activities will follow the permit application process.
    • Enter Project Information- Input the Project Name, estimated start date (given the time needed to process a submission the date should be more than 55 days from the date of submission) and the Client ID number of the Qualified Supervisor. 
    • Certification and Supporting Documents- Check off any relevant information and attach the required forms or maps such as if there was any aboriginal consultation carried out, notice to surface right owners, activity details report, Project scale and regional scale maps. Identify the document type from the pull down menu for each document attached. The maps that are generated by the system are not complete since they do not outline the locations of your activities.  A submission with only system generated maps will not be considered valid.
    • Summary – Review the information in the submission to confirm that all information is correct and attachments are included. Click confirm to submit.
  • If an update to the Permit such as; start and end dates, adding or removing activities, project information or adding/correcting an attachment is needed the Update Early Exploration Activities Submission section of Early Exploration Activities in MLAS can be used prior to the processing of the application. These updates are not possible once the process has begun in MLAS.


  1. Prepare maps (Appendix 2) showing activities in detail in advance of filling out the Permit application in MLAS. All attachments must be submitted as PDF’s.
  2. Complete the Activity Details Report in advanced of starting the MLAS submission process.  The fillable PDF form can be downloaded from the Central Forms Repository.
  3. 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 Renewal

  • A permit renewal is for an existing permit and there can be no additions or changes to tenure or activities. 
  • A proponent must 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 be required to submit a new permit application.
  • Once a permit has expired it cannot be renewed; if this happens an applicant must apply for a new permit application.
  • A permit renewal is done through MLAS under the Early Exploration Activities from the left Menu.


  1. Consider how the activities that have been completed have met the requirements for Provincial Standards
  2. If tenure has been removed due to expiry, cancellation or transfer, ensure maps and tenure list are updated.

Step 3: Validation of Exploration Permit Application

  • The exploration permit application requires detailed information 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.
  • If a permit application submission does not include all the needed attachments it will not be considered valid and it cannot be processed. Ministry staff will request all required attachments be uploaded prior to validation. Common issues with exploration permit applications include:
    • Missing Regional Scale Map or Activity Details Report.
    • Project scale maps not having sufficient detailed information such as activity(ies) locations with 200 m accuracy, scale bars or north arrows (see Appendix 2 map for requirements).
    • Regional scale maps not demonstrating a good regional location.
    • Difference between claims listed in the exploration permit application and those shown on the Project map.

Step 4: Processing of Exploration Permit Application

  • 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 below which outlines permit map requirements. Examples of maps are provided in Appendix 4 below.
  • ENDM will review the permit application for completeness. If complete it will be deemed valid.  Once valid the processing will commence.
  • ENDM 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.  ENDM will consider comments received, if any, and work with proponents to respond.  Depending on comments received ENDM 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.  ENDM will provide specific direction in this regard on a case-by-case basis, if necessary.
  • Applications for new 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.  The process can be placed on temporarily hold where additional time is needed to adequately consider concerns raised by an Aboriginal community or to align with other ministry processes such as obtaining a bulk sample permission. A proponent may also request that a temporary hold be put on the process.
  • Please note permit applications are subject to all other applicable regulations (refer to Appendix 5 for examples)

Step 5:  Permit Decision

  • 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.
  • The Director of Exploration will consider if they are satisfied that appropriate Aboriginal consultation has been carried out prior to making a decision on a permit application.
  • The Director of Exploration will also consider all comments received in making a decision on whether or not to issue an exploration permit. This includes any arrangements that may have been made with SROs or Aboriginal communities.
  • A Proponent will be advised in writing of the Director’s decision on an exploration permit application.

Step 6: Commencing Exploration Permit Activities and Monitoring

  • The proponent can proceed with the exploration permit activities as per the permit application once in receipt of the approved exploration permit. The permit will be emailed to the proponent, agent and carbon copied to the Aboriginal communities that the application was circulated to.
  • The proponent must undertake the activities 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 specific terms and conditions listed on the permit.
  • An exploration permit is also subject to standard conditions as stated directly on the issued permit. This includes the requirement for the person in charge of the operation conducted under the permit to produce and show the permit or the true copy kept on the exploration permit area to any inspector whenever requested by an officer. This means the exploration permit and supporting documentation (application with maps) should be available on site at all times during the course of the project.
  • 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, terms and conditions and associated regulations.
  • Carrying out prescribed exploration permit activities 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 a stop work order, fines and/or imprisonment.
  • All active exploration plans and permits are posted on the ENDM website, available at a link called “exploration plans & permits table” at the bottom of the Exploration Permits webpage.


  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 exploration permit activities.
  3. Consider other regulatory requirements while performing the exploration permit activities on the project.

Questions about an Exploration Permit Application?

Exploration permit applications may be submitted through MLAS. 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 - 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

  • Maps should not be larger than11” by 17”. For larger properties, tiled and numbered maps may be submitted.
  • Combined size of the application and all attachments including maps must not exceed 10 MB.
  • Acceptable map formats include only pdf.

Minimum Information Requirements for Regional Map:

  1. Regional map must be between 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scale.  The map should easily show exactly where in the province the project is located
  2. Local identifiable features such as towns and cities 
  3. Lakes, streams and other notable topographic features, railways, roads, power lines and pipelines
  4. Township boundary lines, mining claim, lease, licence of occupation or patent boundaries
  5. First Nation reserves and/or communities must be identified if within the scale of the map
  6. A graphic or bar scale
  7. A north direction arrow
  8. Grid coordinates  (e.g. UTM coordinates)
  9. Legend with a descriptive list of all symbols used on the map

Minimum Information Requirements for Project Map(s):

  1. Project scale maps must be between 1:5,000 and 1:40,000
  2. The mining claim, lease, licence of occupation, patent or parcel numbers of all mining land covered by the project
  3. The location of exploration sites and activities must be defined on the project scale map.  A polygon, point or line can be used to depict activities positioned on the map within 200 m of where the activity is being proposed to take place. Please see Appendix 4 for an example of a detailed project map. Activities indicated on the map should correspond with the activities indicated on the application.
  4. Additional information, such as exploration trails, roads and camps should be shown on the map using a line, point or polygon within 100 m of where they will be located.
  5. Local identifiable features such as towns and cities if located within the scale of the map 
  6. Lakes, streams and other notable topographic features, railways, roads, trails, power lines, pipelines and buildings
  7. Township boundary lines, mining claim, lease, licence of occupation or patent boundaries and numbers
  8. First Nation reserves and/or communities must be identified if within the scale of the map
  9. A graphic or bar scale
  10. A north direction arrow
  11. Grid coordinates  (e.g. UTM coordinates)
  12. Legend with 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 ENDM, SRO’s, the public and Aboriginal communities will be able to understand the activity(ies) being proposed. Sufficient detail is required to enable the determination of potential impacts.  An exploration permit application submission that does not provide sufficient detail will be returned in order to be revised to provide greater detail.

Appendix 3 – Definitions (section numbers for O. Reg. 308/12 unless otherwise indicated)

“circulation date” means,
(a) 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 the purposes of section 7 or 14, or
(b) if the Director has not identified any Aboriginal communities for the purposes of section 7 or 14, the date on which the Director sends, by whatever means, a notice to the early exploration proponent that the exploration plan or exploration permit application has been received and meets the requirements of this Regulation; (“date de circulation”)

“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:

  • directors, officers, agents and employees of the early exploration proponent,
  • partners, subsidiaries and affiliates of the early exploration proponent,
  • contractors and subcontractors of the early exploration proponent,
  • 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 Energy, 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 Maps

  1. Example of a Regional Map
    Example A
    Example of a Regional Map
    Example B

    Regional Map
  2. Example of a Property Map
    Example A

    Example of a Project Map

    Example B
    Example of a Project Map

Appendix 5: Other Regulatory Considerations

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