Learn about aggregates (e.g., sand, gravel, clay, bedrock) in Ontario and how you can apply to operate a pit/quarry or comment on proposed projects.
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Aggregates are usually sand, gravel, clay, earth and bedrock. They are used to make roads, subway tunnels, homes and other structures.
- Loose material, such as sand and gravel, is removed from a pit
- Solid bedrock, such as limestone and granite, is removed from a quarry
How to find pits and quarries
You can use the Pits and Quarries Online tool to locate pits and quarries. The tool lists the:
- licence or permit holder
- operation type
- maximum annual tonnage limit
You can also export information into a table or report.
How the province regulates pits and quarries
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry:
- oversees the rules governing aggregate management
- issues licences, permits and changes to existing approvals
- inspects aggregate operations and responds to complaints
- enforces compliance
- ensures rehabilitation is carried out on sites
Most of Ontario’s pits and quarries are regulated under the Aggregate Resources Act.
Some areas of private land are not covered by the Act. In these areas, the local municipality may regulate pit and quarry operations.
Annual compliance reporting
If you have an aggregate licence or permit, you need to complete an annual compliance assessment report to demonstrate your compliance with the rules. This report must be submitted to your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office. If your pit or quarry operates inside a municipality, you must also submit a copy of the report to the municipality.
How to comment on a proposed aggregate project
Applicants are required to notify adjacent landowners, municipalities and other agencies and ministries of their proposed aggregate development project. Some types of applications require signage on the proposed site and notices in the local newspaper.
The notices identify the applicant’s contact information and how you can obtain more information or comment on the proposal. Once you submit a comment, the applicant is obligated to work toward resolving your concern.
On private land, applications for new pits and quarries and significant changes to site plans are also posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry.
What you need to operate a pit or quarry
On private land
- you need a Class A licence if more than 20,000 tonnes of aggregate is removed annually
- you need a Class B licence if 20,000 tonnes or less of aggregate is removed annually
- Public authorities, like the Ministry of Transportation and municipalities, may obtain a wayside permit to extract aggregate for temporary road construction or maintenance projects
On Crown land
You need an aggregate permit to:
- operate a pit or quarry on Crown land
- extract Crown-owned aggregate or topsoil
You may also need approval under other pieces of legislation. Some examples are:
How to apply for a licence or permit
You need to meet the requirements outlined in the Aggregate Resources of Ontario, Provincial Standards to apply for a licence or permit.
How to rehabilitate pits and quarries
The Aggregate Resources Act requires you to rehabilitate your pit or quarry during its operational lifetime.
You need to rehabilitate the parts of your site which you’ve completed work on, while you continue extracting aggregates in other areas.
These areas can be rehabilitated into wetlands and habitat for wildlife, farmland, parks, fruit orchards, vineyards, subdivisions, golf courses and recreational fishing areas.
Abandoned aggregate sites
Pits and quarries on private land that stopped operating before they were required to obtain a licence are considered abandoned or legacy sites.
Where the landowner has granted permission, these sites can be rehabilitated by the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation under the Management of Abandoned Aggregate Properties Program.