Online claim staking in Ontario slated for 2017
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is encouraging prospectors and mining companies with mineral claims in Ontario to double check their claim boundaries as the province inches closer to introducing digital claim staking.
The introduction of online claim staking is the third phase of a multi-stage modernization of the Mining Act, which began in 2006, noted Roy Denomme, director and project lead.
“We’re streamlining the process and moving Ontario into the 21st century by providing this service for our clients.”
Ontario isn’t the first Canadian jurisdiction to adopt online claim staking. Provinces already using a digital system include British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.
In addition to modernizing the staking process, moving to a digital platform simplifies things for Ontario’s international mining clientele, Denomme said. Many junior mining companies, for example, are headquartered in Vancouver or Australia, he noted, and the geographical distance makes claim staking more difficult.
“This is clearly an Ontario-centric project,” Denomme said. “It meets the needs of our client group and hopefully encourages others to come to Ontario.”
Claim stakers now go out into the bush and erect posts at the four corners of a claim site. Once the digital system is operational, claims will be staked with a few clicks of a mouse at the Ministry website.
“There’s a 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 co-ordinates that tells you your area of exploration.”
The system will also allow for legal transactions, such as transferring claims between owners.
Before the new system becomes operational, the Ministry is urging claim holders to georeference their mining claims to compare them with 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 co-ordinates 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 associated with their claims, such as any requirements for work to be done on a property.
An historic location of the legacy claim will be archived for reference.
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, so the client can see ahead of time what their claims will look like under the digital system.
Denomme said he’s done more than 80 of those sessions already: “At the end of the day, nobody will be surprised about what they’re going to get.”
The Ministry is now working to get the word out to as many clients as possible, something Denomme said can be challenging.
“We have a very diverse client group, which ranges from a prospector who may have two or three mining claims that he maintains, to companies like Vale and Goldcorp, who have huge land packages and huge amounts of staff that just manage their lands,” Denomme said.
Public consultation is ongoing in the leadup to the launch of the new system. To date, the Ministry has held more than 60 sessions for industry and more than 20 sessions with First Nations and Métis groups, and hosted workshops in key areas like Toronto, Vancouver and Sudbury.
The Ministry is also reaching out to as many individual claim holders as possible to ensure they’re aware of the intricacies of the new system. More than 360 claim holders have been contacted, and for the most part, they’ve been receptive to the impending changes, Denomme said. “The more information people have, the more comfortable they are with it.”
The launch date for online staking is contingent on the passing of legislation currently before the Ontario legislature, but Denomme said the Ministry is aiming to make the switch by the end of 2017.
In the meantime, claim holders can visit www.mndm.gov.on.ca/en/mines-and-minerals/mining-act/mining-act-modernization, to view updates about the project.
Claim holders with questions can email [email protected] or telephone 1-888-415-9845, to speak to someone directly.