Close to 90-percent of Canada’s total land mass is Crown Land – owned by the government. This also means that the majority of the mineral rights in the country (almost 90-percent) are also owned by the government. There are few exceptions where the rights are privately owned. This means prospectors have to stake a claim in order to acquire mineral rights to a piece of land.
The Claim Process
Prospectors require a prospecting license before they can stake claims in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Ontario and Quebec. The licensing program is simple. Anyone over the age of majority pays a fee. The fee rates and license terms vary from province to province. Alberta and Yukon do not require prospectors to have a license but they have to be a Canadian Citizen and over the age of majority. For those in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan who are over the age of majority, they must first register with the Mineral Claims recorder’s office prior to staking online.
What The Prospectors License Does
Essentially once you have a prospector’s license, in the jurisdictions that require one, you are granted certain rights. These rights allow you to travel on land that is open for staking. However, if that is not Crown Land, you will require permission from the property owner to stake your claim.
High-Tech vs. Traditional Staking
Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec and Yukon use traditional staking methods. British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan all use digital staking. Thanks to GPS technology, if you live in a province where you can stake a digital claim, you don’t even have to dress warmly for the process. All you do is access the online mineral staking system in your home province with a computer. Then you pick out the area you wish to stake and go from there.
For provinces that require traditional staking you will be outdoors physically marking the area claimed with trees or standing stumps cut to a prescribed size. Post tags are required to identify the claim and each province that utilizes physical staking has slight variations on claim size and post locations. Claims cannot overlap those of another prospector and claim boundaries must be clearly marked.
Once a claim has been staked, it needs to be registered with the local mining office. Timeframes vary from province to province but range from between 15 and 60 days following staking. Registration applications include a sketch of the claim area and approximate location of all posts. GPS coordinates may be required for all corner posts and photos showing the corner posts and GPS coordinates may be required as verification.
Maintaining The Claim
After the local mine recording office approves the claim, the prospector must work the land. Exploration and development of the land in the claim area allows the prospector to maintain the claim until the term expires. At that time the prospector may choose to renew for a further term or let the claim lapse so that another prospector can take it on.
British Columbia and Yukon are the best known location in Canada for placer mining. Gold deposits in rivers and streams were responsible for many gold rushes in both. In British Columbia placer claims can be staked digitally by using the same system as mineral claims.
In Yukon the process is quite different. Traditional staking is used but the prospector requires a prospecting lease first. They have a one year term and can only be renewed to a maximum of three years in total. There are specific guidelines that a prospector must follow before staking the ground and must also be able to prove financial backing is in place for their exploration program. The placer claims in Yukon can be converted to mining grants if mine development is the next move following successful prospecting.