A mining lease:

  • is a form of land tenure issued under the Mining Act. It gives the holder rights over a designated piece of land
  • offers more secure rights than a mining claim
  • is an important step to finance an exploration project because leases are usually necessary to develop a mine

If, as a claim holder, you decide to move a project to the mine development stage, you will also need other approvals and permits, such as a closure plan, before the mine can be developed and mine production can start. These permits and approvals typically require consultation with potentially affected Indigenous communities.

Rights of mining claim holders and lessees

Mining claim holders

As a claim holder, you have the right to:

  • explore for minerals on, in, or under the claim
  • obtain a lease of the claim, once the requirements of the Mining Act and its regulations have been fulfilled

You have no right to develop, take or dispose of any minerals found on, in or under the land, except in limited circumstances where:

  • the government has granted a permission to test
  • extraction is below certain thresholds

To keep their claims in good standing, you must perform eligible assessment (exploration) work to satisfy annual required units of assessment work.

Mining lessees

A mining lease gives you, the lessee, the right, subject to the terms of the lease, to:

  • extract minerals from the leased area
  • sell the minerals once extracted

You pay rent to the Crown and no longer needs to perform annual assessment work.

A mining lease:

  • does not give ownership of or title to the land
  • is not a permit to mine

Mining rights and surface rights

We administer and controls the ownership and disposition of most mining rights and lands through the Public Lands Act, the Mining Act and other legislation.

Mining rights are the rights to the minerals in, on and under the surface. Mining rights are not limited to minerals below the surface.

Surface rights are all of the rights to the land above and below the surface, other than the mining rights. Despite their name, surface rights are not limited to the surface of the earth. Instead, surface rights are all rights in land that are not mining rights - those rights extend both upwards and downwards, indefinitely.

The mining rights can be held separately from the rights to the rest of the land (surface rights). Both are considered ‘land’. These two ‘estates’ in land can be held by the same or separate lessees or owners and can be registered separately in the Land Registry Office.

Mining leases can be issued for mining rights and surface rights (where surface rights are available) or for the mining rights only.

Requirements to get a mining lease

To get a mining lease, a claim holder must:

  1. Perform and report a minimum of 5 units of assessment work for each claim being requested for lease.
  2. Submit a Notice of Intent letter and all necessary supporting information and documents.
  3. Submit an Application for Lease package containing all necessary supporting documents once we have confirmed that the package may be submitted.
  4. Comply with the Mining Act and its regulations to maintain claims in good standing.

Assessment work requirements for claim holders

To keep claims in good standing, you must perform eligible assessment (exploration) work to satisfy the annual required units of assessment work. You must:

1. Perform and report a minimum of 5 units of assessment work for a claim before you can submit an application for lease package. The following types of assessment work credits cannot be used to satisfy any of the 5 units of assessment work required to obtain a lease of a mining claim:

  • assessment work credits that are assigned in respect of consultations carried out with Indigenous communities
  • assessment work credits assigned in respect of a payment made in place of assessment work

2. Continue to satisfy annual assessment work requirements for your mining claims until we have:

  • determined that all requirements for lease have been met
  • accepted your complete application for lease package

Read the Guide to Obtaining a Mining Lease in Ontario for more information on leases and obtaining a lease.

How long the leasing process takes

How long the leasing process takes varies depending on:

  • number and size of claims being requested for lease
  • number and size of any areas of land within a claim that will require additional surveying to create separate parts in the plan of survey, for which the mining rights or surface rights, or both, will be reserved in the lease
  • length of time it takes for a survey to be completed
  • overall complexity of the request
  • amendments made to the original intent to lease letter
  • age and complexity of any areas requiring additional surveying and a reservation of rights, including transmission lines, Licences of Occupation and patents

The older a survey is, the more difficult it becomes to locate existing survey monumentation and discern boundaries.