The law

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered and threatened species — animals and plants in decline and at risk of disappearing from the province.

If you plan to explore for minerals that will affect a newly protected species or habitat, you either need a permit or to follow certain rules.

These rules apply to early exploration activities allowed under the Mining Act:

  • some forms of drilling
  • removing soil and vegetation with heavy equipment
  • pitting and trenching to expose mineral deposits
  • line cutting (vegetation clearing on mining claim)
  • surveying (geophysical methods)

Different rules apply if you are building a new mine or conducting advanced mineral exploration activities.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

  • Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)

The rules

You must:

  • register the activity and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (before work begins)
  • take immediate steps to minimize the effects to the species and habitat
  • create and implement a mitigation plan for each species
  • report sightings of rare species (and update registration documents, if needed)
  • monitor and report on species and activities

Report a species

If you see or encounter a species, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre – within 3 months of the sighting or encounter.

Report a rare species

Contact the Natural Heritage Information Centre

How to register

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • business profile to register business activities if you are a(n):
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry
    • authorized representative registering activities on behalf of any of the above.
  • an individual profile to register non-business activities

Open a new window or tab to:

Create a business profile
Create an individual profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning business
Sign in as a returning individual

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
    • if you are an authorized representative, identify the business you are representing
  • click on Create New Registration
  •  select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
  • select Early exploration mining - Activities conducted under an exploration plan or permit
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
    • By law, the regulation requires you to keep contact information up-to-date should the Ministry need to contact you
    • By law, the regulation requires you to submit requested documents within 14 days of a request from the Ministry using the contact information you provide
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you need assistance to register your activity, please call 1-800-387-7011 .

If you require an alternate format:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Activity Form Early Exploration Mining

Minimize effects on a species

You must immediately:

  • avoid effects to woodland caribou (during feeding, migration, reproduction, rearing)
  • take reasonable steps to avoid work that could affect other species during its reproduction, rearing and hibernation seasons
  • avoid work in areas that are used or have been used in the past 3 years for hibernation, reproduction and rearing
  • give the species adequate time to leave the area, before starting work
  • take steps to protect or relocate plants
  • get advice/help before you move it
  • take reasonable steps to restore habitat if feasible
  • create or enhance habitat in the same area, before work finishes

Mitigation plans

Mitigation plans must include the best available information on a species.

You can get this information from:

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Aboriginal traditional knowledge
  • community knowledge (e.g. local nature clubs)

A plan must:

  • be prepared by an expert on the species
  • describe a timeline for all stages of the work (including start and end dates)
  • provide a map with the location (scale no greater than 1:20 000)
  • describe the effect of work on species and their habitat
  • say how, when and where you will minimize effects on the species
  • outline how you plan to monitor the steps you took and how effective they were

Deadlines for plans

In most cases, you must complete your plan before exploration affects a species or habitat.

You must complete the plan:

  • within 3 years of the date the species first appeared on site
  • within two years from the date the species was listed for those species listed on or after January 24, 2013.

Updates to mitigation plans

Before an exploration plan ends or a permit expires, you need to update your mitigation plan if work will continue.

You must keep plans for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, if asked.

Reporting process

You must prepare a report that:

  • details how you minimized effects on a species and how effective those steps were (with locations)
  • lists any observations/sightings of a species including:
    •  circumstances of the sighting(s)
    • location(s)
    • date(s)
    • time(s) of observations

You must prepare this report within 180 days of ending an activity.

You must keep plans for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, within 14 days, if asked.

Woodland Caribou Habitat (forest-dwelling boreal population)

If you are working in Caribou habitat, you must describe:

  • the work you were doing
  • the area of habitat where the work took place (geographic location and size)

You must submit this Caribou-specific information to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry within 180 days of ending an activity.

When you need a permit

You could still need a permit if:

  • you’re building a new mine
  • you’re conducting advanced mineral exploration activities
  • operations will affect these species:
    • Golden Eagle
    • any species listed after the date identified in section 0.1 of O. Reg. 242/08

    To apply for a permit, contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office.

    Find an MNRF district office

    New mines/advanced exploration

    You may not need a permit for these activities:

    • advanced exploration
    • production
    • rehabilitation

    More information on other mining activities

    Identify a species at risk

    If you are unsure about a certain species — and would like help identifying or confirming what it is — you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.

    Get more details about a species