Instructions, Definitions, and General Guidance for Submitting Exploration Plans

What is the Exploration Plan submission process?

The following step by step process describes how to submit an exploration plan for review by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The early exploration proponent (“proponent”) should be aware that once an exploration plan becomes effective it 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 plan.  An Exploration Plan must be done through the Mining Lands Administration System (MLAS), forms related to the plan submission 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, MENDM notifies Aboriginal communities which may exercise Aboriginal or treaty rights in the area of the proposed early exploration activities.  MENDM identifies these communities based on our current understanding, which continues to develop over time.

Aboriginal communities will be notified of exploration plans 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 MENDM. Depending on comments received, MENDM 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. MENDM 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 MENDM encourages.  Proponents who wish to contact Aboriginal communities which may be affected by proposed exploration activities in advance of submitting an exploration plan should contact MENDM 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 MENDM or for their own business reasons, can help to inform MENDM’s decisions.  Where such discussions have occurred, proponents may be asked to provide addition information and details

Consultation and Arrangements with Aboriginal Communities at Early ExplorationFurther information about MENDM’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

  • 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 MENDM client to enroll in MLAS. A valid email address is required to enrol into MLAS.
  • A Submitter of an exploration plan 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 (MAAP).  If the Mining Act Awareness Program is not complete, MLAS will not allow the Plan 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 Plan and send a copy of the draft exploration plan 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.
  • 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 MENDM 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 plan must be designated an Agent for the corporation in MLAS.

Step 2: Submission of an Exploration Plan in MLAS

  • To ensure the work being proposed in an exploration plan can be carried out at the time a proponent wishes, it is the responsibility of the proponent to start working on the exploration plan submission 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 Plan. 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 plan submission.
    • Enter Project Activities – Select the activities from the list of plan level or non-prescribed activities.
    • Enter Project Information- Input the Project Name, estimated start date (given the time needed to process a submission the date should be more than 35 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. 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. Identify the document type from the pull down menu for each document attached.
    • Summary – Review the information in the submission to confirm that all information is correct and attachments are included. Click confirm to submit.

TIPS

  1. Prepare maps (Appendix 2) showing activities in detail in advance of starting the MLAS submittal procedure. 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 further flexibility.

Step 3: Validation of Exploration Plan submission

  • The exploration plan 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 plan 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 plan submittals 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 plan submission and those shown on the Project map.

Step 4: Processing of Exploration Plan submission

  • Accompanying maps must contain sufficient detail to ensure ministry staff and Aboriginal communities can locate the area and determine where the activities could occur to ensure appropriate consultation. Please see Appendix 2 below which outlines plan map requirements. Examples of maps are provided in Appendix 4 below.
  • MENDM will review the exploration plan for completeness.  If complete it will be deemed valid.  Once valid the processing will commence.
  • MENDM will circulate the exploration plan 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. MENDM will consider comments received, if any, and work with proponents to respond. Depending on comments received MENDM 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.  MENDM will provide specific direction in this regard on a case-by-case basis, if necessary.
  • Any comments received from surface rights owners will be considered, and where appropriate the proponent may be asked to consider such comments.
  • The usual time from circulation of the exploration plan to when it becomes effective is 30 days.
  • Early exploration proponents may withdraw or make adjustments to a submitted exploration plan at any time within 30 days after the circulation date.  This action may be in response to comments received from an Aboriginal community or surface rights owner.
  • In certain circumstances an exploration plan may be required to undergo the exploration permit application process in which case the proponent will be contacted by the Ministry.
  • Please note exploration plan activities are subject to all other applicable regulations (refer to Appendix 5 for examples).

Step 5: Commencing Exploration Plan Activities and Monitoring

  • The proponent can proceed with the exploration plan activities included in the submission 30 days after the circulation date of the plan, unless the claim holder has been notified that the Exploration Permit application process must be followed.
  • The activities must be carried out 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.
  • An exploration plan will be effective for a period of two years.
  • Ministry staff may inspect the site during the exploration plan activities, before commencement of the activities, or following completion of the activities, to ensure compliance with the exploration plan and associated regulations.
  • Carrying out prescribed exploration plan activities without an active exploration plan is an offence 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 MENDM website, available at a link called “exploration plans & permits table” at the bottom of the Exploration Plans webpage.

TIPS

  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 about an Exploration Plan Submission?

Exploration Plans can only 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.  See Appendix 1 for the Regional boundaries.

  • 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 Plan Submission

  • Maps should not be larger than 11” 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

TIPS

  1. The more specific and detailed a proponent is in the identification of the locations where the activity(ies) will be undertaken, the better MENDM, 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 plan submission that does not provide sufficient detail will be returned in order to be revised to provide greater detail.

Appendix 3 – Definitions

(section numbers referred to are in relation to 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 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 – Examples of Maps

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

    Regional Map
     
  2. Examples of a Project 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 MENDM regulations are followed; examples of several of these are below.  This list is not exhaustive: