Overview

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.

A mining lease offers more secure rights than a mining claim.

A mining lease is an important step to finance an exploration project. Mining leases are usually necessary to develop a mine. If a claim holder decides to move a project to the mine development stage, they 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

A claim holder has 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

A claim holder has 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 or where extraction is below certain thresholds.

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

Mining lessees

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

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

The lessee pays 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

Ontario administers 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. Surface rights are not confined to the plane of the surface.

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.

Terms and conditions of a mining lease

A mining lease is subject to terms and conditions under the Mining Act. For example:

  • every mining lease includes the provision that the lessee’s rights are subject to the protections provided for existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in Section 35 of the Constitution Act
  • the lands, surface rights or mining rights must be used solely for the purposes of the mining industry

To maintain a mining lease in good standing, the lessee must comply with the specific terms and conditions of the lease and with the Mining Act and its regulations. Failure to do so could lead to the termination of the lease.

Most mining leases have a 21-year term and cannot be renewed unless the government is satisfied either that:

  • the production of minerals has occurred continuously for more than one year since the lease was issued or last renewed
  • the lessee has demonstrated a reasonable effort to bring the property into production

Requirements to obtain a mining lease

To obtain a mining lease, a claim holder must:

  • perform and report a minimum of five units of assessment work for each claim being requested for lease
  • submit a Notice of Intent letter and all necessary supporting information and documents
  • submit an Application for Lease package containing all necessary supporting information and documents, once the ministry has confirmed that the package may be submitted
  • comply with the Mining Act and its regulations to maintain claims in good standing

How to apply for a mining lease

Step 1: Submit a Notice of Intent

To start the process of obtaining a mining lease, the claim holder must submit a Notice of Intent letter by email to:

Provincial Mining Recorder
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
 pro.ndm@ontario.ca

You can submit the Notice of Intent letter any time after you acquired a mining claim.

The Notice of Intent letter must include:

  • a list of the mining claims the applicant is seeking to lease and if the applicant is seeking a single lease for several mining claims or individual leases
  • whether the applicant is seeking a lease for both the surface and mining rights or only the mining rights
  • confirmation that a minimum of five units of assessment (exploration) work have been completed and filed for the claims, or confirmation that the assessment requirements will be met in the near future
  • a signed authorization letter if the applicant is requesting a lease on the claim holder’s behalf
  • whether the lease will be held in joint tenancy or tenancy-in-common (if the mining claims are held by two or more claim holders)
  • the name and contact information for the Ontario Land Surveyor selected to survey the mining claim(s)
  • land title documents for any land tenure within or abutting the requested area, including parcel abstracts (PINs), Crown grants, plans of survey (other than Crown surveys) and block maps (property index maps or e-maps)

You can hire a title searcher to get copies of land title documents or you can get documents through OnLand. OnLand is a virtual land registry office which hosts documents and property title records that the public can view and download.

While submitting a Notice of Intent letter initiates the process of obtaining a mining lease, this letter is not the same thing as the Application for Lease form which you must submit later in the process as part of the application for lease package.

Submission of a Notice of Intent letter does not relieve a claim holder from their obligation to satisfy assessment work requirements for the claim.

After we receive a Notice of Intent letter

When we receive a Notice of Intent letter, we will notify Indigenous communities known to credibly assert or exercise Aboriginal and/or treaty rights in the area and respond to any questions or concerns.

We will review the land title documents and send a letter to the applicant to either:

  • confirm that they have met the requirements to proceed with the leasing process
  • tell them they need to submit more information

The leasing process can only continue once the applicant has provided us with all required documents and information.

Land title review

To ensure that the Crown issues a lease with the proper legal description and boundaries, we will examine the boundaries of, and rights included in, existing land tenure when we review the lands and prepare survey instructions. Certainty of tenure is crucial to prevent disputes about property boundaries and rights to minerals.

We will issue survey instructions directly to the selected Ontario Land Surveyor. Once the survey is complete, we will:

  • review the plan of survey
  • grant the surveyor permission to deposit the plan of survey
  • prepare a legal description of the surveyed lands

Assessment work review

We will verify that a minimum of five units of assessment work have been completed for each claim.

Step 2: Submit an application for lease package

Once you have met all the requirements in step 1, we will notify you by letter so you can submit an application for lease package.

Applicants must submit an application for lease package to the:

Provincial Recording Office
Tel: 705-670-5792
Toll-free: 1-888-415-9845 ext. 5742
 pro.ndm@ontario.ca

The application for lease package must include:

  • a complete Application for Lease form
  • a copy of the approved plan of survey
  • an agreement for surface rights compensation, where applicable
  • a Corporation Profile report (or equivalent, if the claim holder is a corporation)
  • payment of the required fees, including the first year’s rent

Cost and fees

The cost to obtain a mining lease includes:

  • application fees as set out in the Minister’s required fee schedule
  • the first year’s annual lease rent

You might incur additional costs throughout the leasing process, such as title searching costs and surveying costs. You must cover all additional costs.

Lease fees

DescriptionCostTax
Lease application (under subsection 81(2) of the Act). Includes application fee per lease, plus the amount related to assessment work for each cell in a mining claim $4,400 less the dollar value of assessment work recorded to date$75No tax
For an application for a lease of surface rights only, under section 84(2) of the Mining Act, per lease$75No tax
For an application to renew a mining lease under subsections 81(6), 82(4), 84(6) per lease$75No tax

How long the leasing process takes

How long the leasing process takes varies depending on:

  • the number and size of claims being requested for lease
  • the 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
  • the age and complexity of any above-noted areas requiring additional surveying and a reservation of rights, including transmission lines, Licences of Occupation, patents
    • Note that the older an item is, the more difficult it becomes to locate existing survey monumentation and discern boundaries
  • the length of time it takes for a survey to be completed
  • the overall complexity of the request

Assessment work requirements

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

You must perform and report a minimum of five units of assessment work for a claim before you can submit an application for lease package.

A unit of assessment work is:

  • the amount of money that must be spent on assessment work on a mining claim each year
  • either $200 per claim per year or $400 per claim per year, depending on the type of claim

The following types of assessment work credits may not be used to satisfy any of the five 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

Claim holders must continue to satisfy annual assessment work requirements for their mining claims until we have:

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

Applying for a lease on a claim holder’s behalf

Individual claim holders are not required to provide any agent authorization information if they are requesting a lease of any claims that they hold, either solely or in tenancy-in-common with other holders.

A person other than the claim holder can request a lease of a claim, but only if they submit a written authorization letter from the claim holder.

When claims are held by an individual, the authorization letter must be signed by that individual that holds the claims.

When claims are held by a corporation, the authorization letter must be signed by an individual with the authority to bind the corporation. They must confirm this authority in the letter and must indicate their position/title.

When claims are held by several holders, at least one holder must provide written authorization in the above-noted manner.

What to include in an authorization letter

An authorization letter should:

  • set out the specific authorization being provided to the individual who is being appointed as agent on the claim holder’s behalf
  • be signed and dated
  • be submitted to the Provincial Recording Office, along with the Notice of Intent letter, as part of Step 1 of the leasing process

Contact

For more information on mining leases, contact:

Provincial Recording Office
Tel: 705-670-5792
Toll-free: 1-888-415-9845 ext. 5742
 pro.ndm@ontario.ca