Northwest Territories And Nunavut Mining Regulations: Proposed Changes

by Dentons

A number of changes are proposed and are to be published in the Canada Gazette in the Summer of 2013 for comments with the intention of making them effective in 2014.

The Canadian Mining Regulations are now known as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Mining Regulations (NTNMRS) and these will be split into two statutes under the applicable Territorial Lands Act for both Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

In addition, there will be changes to the Territorial Coal Regulations, the Territorial Quarrying Regulations and the Territorial Dredging Regulations.

A new definition of “mineral” is proposed to be adopted as follows:

“mineral means any naturally occurring inorganic substance found in the mining district, including frac sand, but excluding material the taking of which is regulated under the territorial quarrying regulations”.

This is intended to bring the legislation more in line with other jurisdictions in Canada where the end use of the mineral, for example, construction, is treated under different legislation than the applicable mineral legislation.

A planned online mineral rights acquisition system is proposed for Nunavut in September 2014 and the devolution of responsibilities for minerals is proposed for the Northwest Territories in 2014.

At present, the regulation deals with the English system (feet, acres, etc.) and it will be converted to metric system.

Additional provisions, as well as clarifying definitions, include the removal of detailed internal administrative processes, the removal of certain discretionary powers, in that words such as “the satisfaction of the mining recorder” will no longer be applicable.

There are some repealing measures such as restriction on grouping claims only once a year, written reduction for work on mineral leases and common anniversary dates for claims.  Presumably, these will now be allowed to bring the legislation more into line with other jurisdictions in Canada.

In addition, the arbitration process will now be dealt with under the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act and the NWT Surface Rights Board Act, where disputes arise between surface rights holders and mineral tenure holders.

All claims will remain subject to the ten year hold period before they must be converted to a mining lease, however, the application must be made before the 9th anniversary and there will be a one year extension period for preparing and filing the survey.

There is also a provision dealing with the re opening of the land for staking when a lease has been cancelled, which will be made subject to any unremedied environmental damage to the land be corrected before the land will be re opened for mineral title acquisition.It will now be possible to obtain three extensions for the life of a claim.

Prospecting permits will now be changed from December 1 to November 1 to allow more time for aboriginal consultation.

Work reporting requirements will also be changed to allow standardization of reports, reports to be presented in guideline format, based on actual costs of work including remote sensing followed up with field work, and environmental base line studies will be accepted.  In addition, a ceiling of $10,000 in Northwest Territories and $20,000 in Nunavut or work can be reported by non professionals in a simplified report.  The reports may be prepared in electronic format.

Regional mining recorders offices in Iqaluit and Yellowknife will be responsible for the issuance of licenses to prospect, prospecting permits, mineral claims staking and renewal, and leasing and mineral rights.

The license to prospect will still be required to explore for minerals on Crown lands.
Prospecting permits will be issued February 1 for a period of three years south of the 68th parallel and five years north of this parallel and they will be granted for areas as large as 29,000 hectares.

The maximum size of a mineral claim will be 1,250 hectares and they can be held for a maximum of 10 years.

Mineral leases will remain at 21 years and will be renewable.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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