Ontario Proposes Amendments to Mining Act

The Ontario government has introduced proposed amendments to the Mining Act that would create an online registration system for mining claims and an electronic mining land administration system. The proposed online claim registration system would replace the current ground staking and paper map staking system, providing a less intrusive and more accurate claim staking procedure. The electronic mining land administration system would allow for the online transaction of all matters relating to mining land administration. The Ontario government intends for these improvements to facilitate prospecting, claim registration and exploration in the province, as well as enhance the Province's global competitiveness in the mining industry.

The online claim registration system should be faster, less intrusive to landowners and the environment and allow for increased precision in the determination of the boundaries of mining claims, as claims would be registered by reference in a system of pre-set cells on a prescribed grid overlaid on a map of the Province. The fully electronic mining land administration system will allow users to manage all of their mining lands files online, providing faster, more streamlined access to files.

The government has suggested that existing holders of mining claims should work with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and the Provincial Mining Recorder to geo-reference their existing claims in advance of the integration of the existing claim system into the online claim registration system.

Following the introduction of the online claim registration system, those with pre-existing claims and other interests should check to ensure that trust interests are properly registered and delineated in the new cell system and that liens, orders, royalties and other interests affecting those claims are properly brought forward. The proposed amendments prohibit claims against the Crown and its employees for errors in the conversion process and the deprivation of rights due to an error in the conversion process will not be considered an expropriation, putting further emphasis on ensuring claims are accurately transferred.

The proposed Mining Amendment Act, 2015 is the third phase of the larger Mining Act Modernization process introduced by the Ontario government in connection with the Ontario Mineral Development Strategy released in 2006. Prior legislation introduced in earlier phases focused on improving the claim staking process as it related to private landowners, introducing new requirements for exploration plans and exploration permits, introducing the use of GPS co-ordinates in the grid staking regime, and clarifying the requirements for Aboriginal consultation.

Once approved by the provincial legislature, the Mining Amendment Act, 2015 would be implemented over the next two years, with the online claim registration system and fully operational electronic mining land administration system targeted for introduction in the summer of 2017.

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