The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is encouraging people with mineral claims in Ontario to double-check their claim boundaries as the province inches closer to introducing digital claim staking.
The adoption of an online claim system is part of the modernization of the Mining Act, which began in 2006.
“We’re streamlining the process, moving Ontario into the 21st century by providing that type of service for our clients,” said project lead Roy Denomme. “This is really taking us to the next level.”
Other provinces already using a digital system include British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.
Moving to a digital platform simplifies the process for Ontario’s international mining clientele, Denomme said. Many junior mining companies, for example, are headquartered in Vancouver or Australia, and the geographical distance makes registering staked claims at a bricks-and-mortar location more difficult.
“It meets the needs of our client group and hopefully encourages others to come to Ontario,” Denomme said.
Two components make up the new system. The first is the online registration process to acquire land. Whereas claim stakers used to go out into the bush and erect posts at the four corners of a claim site, registration will now be done with a few clicks of a mouse at the ministry website.
“There’s a provincial map that has a provincial grid overlaying it, and you actually click cells to define those areas that you want to explore,” Denomme said. “You end up with a set of coordinates that tells you your area of exploration.”
The second component is the accompanying online administrative system, allowing for legal transactions, such as transferring claims between owners.
Before the new system becomes active, the ministry is urging claim holders to georeference their mining claims in comparison to the claim boundaries as defined on the provincial map, so discrepancies can be resolved.
“What we’re moving to is the map being the legal representation of where mining claims are, so where these posts are in the field will no longer be the legal representation,” Denomme said. “The legal representation will be the four coordinates that are shown on our map.”
Denomme said it’s also important for claim holders to have a solid understanding of any agreements or other obligations that are on their claims, such as any arrangements for work to be done by a mining company.
In advance of the conversion to digital staking, clients can make an appointment with the ministry, which will convert the client’s claims into cells and boundary claims so the client can see ahead of time what their claims will look like under the digital system.
Through April, Denomme said he’s done more than 80 of those sessions already with industry, First Nations and Métis groups: “At the end of the day, nobody will be surprised as to what they’re going to get.”
The ministry now has the challenging task of getting the word out to as many clients as possible.
“We have a very diverse client group, which ranges from a prospector who may have two or three mining claims that he maintains to the Vales and Goldcorps, who have huge land packages and huge amounts of staff that just manage their lands,” he said.
The ministry has also reached out more than 360 individual claim holders.
“The more information people have — our clients, the prospectors, the associations, the First Nations — the more comfortable they are with this,” Denomme said. “With some of the sessions, there’s been a lot of positive response.”
The launch date is contingent on the passing of legislation at Queen’s Park, but Denomme said the ministry aims to make the switch by late 2017.
For details, go online to www.mndm.gov.on.ca/en/mines-and-minerals/mining-act/mining-act-modernization, where the ministry will post updates relating to this phase of the project.