Prospecting enters the digital age in Ontario – by Adam McDowell (TV – January 9, 2018)

Staking a mineral-rights claim will soon be as easy as clicking a mouse — but the new process may end up being hard on small-scale operations

From 1906 until early this morning, the process for staking a mineral-rights claim in Ontario was the same: Starting at the northeast corner of your intended parcel, drive a 10-centimetre-thick wooden stake into the ground, then trudge 400 metres south and do the same.

Continue to move clockwise, heading west to drive the next stake, then north, then east again to complete the square. Record your co-ordinates and report your claim to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines within 30 days. For the next two years, you enjoyed exclusive mineral rights to a 16-hectare piece of Ontario.

But at 12:01 a.m. on January 9, the old way of calling dibs on Ontario’s mineral deposits became history, as the province took the next step in a long-planned transition to digital claim-staking. After a brief moratorium on all claims, a new online portal will be up and running on April 10. Once it’s in place, anyone with a computer and knowledge of the rules will be able to register a claim by clicking on a digital map.

“Frankly, it’s the way to go. It’s bringing Ontario into the 21st century in land acquisition,” says Roy Denomme, modernization project lead for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. By establishing a digital system, he says, “Ontario is to some extent catching up to other jurisdictions,” including every other province except Manitoba.

Small-scale operators, though, worry that the new order will hurt them. They’re accustomed to occupying a niche spot in the industry, trekking out into the bush to stake claims that haven’t yet attracted the attention of larger companies.

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