“It has brought the process into the electronic age,” said Philip Hum, the Ministry’s business solutions services project manager, land and resource cluster. “They don’t have to fill out and send in paper. They fill out a form online and submit the documents in either pdf or jpg format. People can still do it the old way and print out copies and hundreds of pieces of paper, put it all into an envelope and courier it to us, but the new system is more efficient. More than 90 per cent of the documents created by clients are already created in electronic form. It’s already digital. The new system saves a lot of time and speeds up the whole process. It’s win-win for the Ministry and the clients.”
Mineral developers access the system online through any computer, electronic tablet or cellphone and fill out web forms. Files submitted can’t be larger than 50 MB, meaning some larger files have to be split in two. There is no limit to the number of files that can be submitted. Claim holders have 24 hours to complete the forms and submit the information once they start the process.
The advantages of the new electronic assessment system are clear.
“It becomes an instantaneous process,” said provincial mining recorder Tony Scarr. “We receive the report and confirmation is immediately sent back to the client. Compared to the old system, it is instant.”
The system went online in March of this year after an extensive 10-month testing phase internally.
“It was proven (up front),” Scarr said. “We had the bugs out and we knew it worked. The online forms have controls in place that ensure the information put in is correct in the first place. It ensures the forms are filled out correctly before they are sent in. Since the system went online, we’ve received a half dozen submissions. We have received very positive feedback from those clients about the process. Clients were asking for it. The old way is seen as slow and cumbersome. When the data is already in electronic format, why not send it in electronically? It was a client-driven development to meet client needs. At the same time, it was an advantage for the Ministry to take out that middle manual processing stage.”
There were significant challenges involved in developing the new system. One challenge the Ministry had to overcome was making the new process similar to what clients were familiar with. It was also necessary to link the new system to other databases to provide the proper checks and balances throughout the process, while not compromising existing data. It was all about working the kinks out in the test phase.
“There were a lot of challenges and we overcame them,” Hum said. “We also had to make sure the new system was safe and ensure integrity so the client had the confidence in submitting their information. It was a lot of work.”
There are no plans to eliminate the old way of submitting assessment work.
The Ministry has also digitized, indexed and put online more than 46,200 claims maps going back more than a century. This will help mineral developers who are routinely accessing historical maps and records to determine the location of past claim staking activities.
The maps have been formatted in a way to ensure ease of use with file names based on the township or area they cover. When possible, the year the map was produced is also displayed.
“It’s convenience for the client,” Scarr said. “We implemented digital claim maps more than 10 years ago. We’ve always wanted to achieve this service. The demand for paper maps is minimal these days. Again, it just makes sense. What is taking place in the industry is a general shift to a paperless system. We’re working to put more forms online. This is just the beginning of the Ministry’s IT solutions development work for property and exploration clients. Stay tuned for future changes.”