ONTARIO GOVERNMENT NEWS RELEASE: More Progress in Mining Act Modernization

McGuinty Government Promoting Sustainable Mineral Exploration and Development

October 3, 2012 2:47 PM

Ontario is modernizing the way companies stake and explore their claims to be more respectful of Aboriginal communities and private landowners.

New rules under the province’s Mining Act include:

  • New requirements for notifying private landowners and consulting with Aboriginal communities potentially affected by proposed exploration activities.
  • New tools to help protect sites of Aboriginal cultural significance.
  • An awareness program for prospectors about the Mining Act changes.
  • More ways to keep mining claims in good standing.
  • New early exploration requirements to help minimize the impact on the environment.

The rules were developed in close partnership with industry stakeholders and Aboriginal representatives and take effect on Nov. 1, 2012. These changes will help ensure that mineral exploration and development in Ontario continues to occur in a balanced, socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Supporting a sustainable mining sector is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to create jobs for Ontarians, create opportunities for Aboriginal communities and strengthen the economy.

“We’ve brought a 100-year-old piece of legislation into the 21st century. Through these regulations, as well as our ongoing work with industry and Aboriginal communities, we can all ensure Ontario continues to be a leading jurisdiction for mineral exploration investment for decades to come.”

– Rick Bartolucci
Minister of Northern Development and Mines

“These changes will ensure Aboriginal communities are appropriately notified and consulted throughout critical points in the mining sequence, from early exploration to mine closure. This will help industry and Aboriginal communities to build positive relationships and ensure respect for Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as the protection of sites of Aboriginal cultural significance.”

– Kathleen Wynne
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

“The Ontario Mining Association appreciates the consultative and focused approach to the development of new Mining Act regulations. Ontario competes with other jurisdictions for mining investment, and a clearly defined regulatory environment is critical to ensuring the province continues as a mining leader.”

– Chris Hodgson
Ontario Mining Association


The first phase of Mining Act changes came into effect in 2011 and included the mandatory notification of private landowners at staking, and the introduction of paper staking in southern Ontario.

In 2011, exploration spending reached a record $1 billion in Ontario, accounting for 26 per cent of the national total.
There are over 600 active mineral exploration projects in Ontario.

Ontario accounts for over 25 per cent of mining jobs in Canada, with the mining industry creating over 27,500 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs in the province.

Mining Act Modernization

Beginning November 1, 2012, new rules under Ontario’s Mining Act will take effect. These changes reflect key components of the modernized Mining Act that was passed in 2009 to promote mineral exploration and development in a manner that recognizes Aboriginal and treaty rights, is more respectful of private landowners and minimizes the impact of mineral exploration and development on the environment.

These new rules and tools will help provide clarity and certainty to industry, insure ongoing engagement by industry with affected Aboriginal communities and help build positive relationships with surface rights owners. The changes identified below will be fully implemented by April 1, 2013.

These information sheets will also become available in Cree, Ojicree and Ojibway shortly.


Mining Act Awareness Program

The program provides basic information on the mining sequence, staking claims, early exploration and Aboriginal consultation requirements at the various stages of the process, with an emphasis on the changes that have been made to the regulations. The program, which will be delivered on-line, will also raise awareness of the importance of considering other users of public land. Effective November 1, 2012, anyone wishing to apply or renew a prospector’s licence must complete the program. By November 1, 2014, every current holder of a prospector’s licence will be required to have completed the program.

Sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance

Effective November 1, 2012, Aboriginal communities will be able to apply to have sites of Aboriginal cultural significance withdrawn so mining claims cannot be staked.

Exploration Plans

In order to undertake certain early exploration activities, an exploration plan must be submitted, and any surface rights owners must be notified. Aboriginal communities potentially affected by the exploration plan activities will be 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. Submission of an exploration plan is voluntary beginning November 1, 2012. Exploration plans will be mandatory as of April 1, 2013.

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. Submission of an application for an exploration permit is voluntary beginning November 1, 2012. Exploration permits will be mandatory as of April 1, 2013.


Voluntary Rehabilitation

Effective November 1, 2012, provisions will be implemented to allow individuals or companies to apply to voluntarily rehabilitate an existing mine hazard that they did not create on Crown-held land, and without becoming liable for pre-existing environmental issues on the site.

Claim Staking

Effective November 1, 2012, if you ground stake a mining claim, you must include Global Positioning System (GPS) georeferencing data on the application to record the claim. MNDM will provide a set of standards to follow. This requirement will only apply to ground staked mining claims on lands that are unsurveyed (not surveyed into lots and concessions).

Assessment Work Credits

Effective November 1, 2012, changes to the assessment work regulation will make Aboriginal consultation costs and the cost of providing GPS data for existing claims eligible for assessment credit. Monetary payments in lieu of assessment work will be accepted under certain conditions.

Bulk Samples

Effective 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. Both a bulk sample permit and an exploration permit will be required to extract a sample and test mineral content on a mining claim.

Closure Plans

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

Regulatory Changes

New rules under Ontario’s Mining Act will modernize the way mineral exploration and development occurs. Key changes coming into effect on Nov. 1, 2012, include:

Exploration Plans and Permits — Proponents planning to undertake certain early exploration activities will need an exploration plan or permit and will need to notify private landowners and consult with potentially affected Aboriginal communities. Exploration permit applications will be posted to the Environmental Registry for public comment. Exploration plans and permits will be voluntary beginning on Nov. 1, 2012, and become mandatory on April 1, 2013.

Bulk Samples — An exploration permit is now also required to take bulk samples of Crown minerals for testing purposes.
Sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance — New criteria will help determine sites that are of social, cultural, sacred or ceremonial significance to Aboriginal communities in order to help protect those sites from claim staking.

Assessment Work Credits — Currently, prospectors must report on yearly exploration work on their claims in order to earn assessment credits and keep claims in good standing. Regulation changes will make qualified GPS data for existing mining claims and certain Aboriginal consultation costs eligible for assessment credit. Prospectors will also be able to make monetary payments instead of reporting assessment work, with some limitations.

Closure Plans — Aboriginal consultation will be required prior to the submission of a closure plan or an amendment to a closure plan.

Voluntary Rehabilitation — Private citizens or companies may now voluntarily rehabilitate a mine hazard they were not responsible for creating without becoming liable for other environmental issues already present on the site.
Mining Act Awareness Program — Anyone wishing to apply for or renew an existing prospector’s licence will be required to complete an online Mining Act awareness program. All current licensees will have two years from the date this regulation comes into effect to complete the program.


Laura Blondeau
Minister’s Office
[email protected]

This information came from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines website:


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