Mineral and placer claims

Last updated on January 25, 2024

An overview and understanding of various processes involved in claim acquisition and maintenance.


Acquiring/registering claims

Mineral and Placer Claims are acquired using the Mineral Titles Online (MTO) system.  The online MTO system allows clients to acquire and maintain (register work, payments, etc.) mineral and placer claims.

You register a cell claim by selecting one or more adjoining cells on the electronic MTO map.

  • Placer Titles can only be acquired in Placer Claim or Placer Lease Areas (PDF, 448KB) in the Province. You cannot use a Mineral Claim to carry out Placer activity and vice versa.
  • Mineral Titles can be acquired anywhere in the province where there are no other impeding interests (other mineral titles, reserves, parks, etc.).

No two people can select the same cells simultaneously, since the database is live and updated instantly; once you make your selection, the cells you have selected will no longer be available to another person, unless the payment is not successfully completed within 30 minutes.

The electronic Internet map allows you to select single or multiple adjoining grid cells.  Cells range in size from approximately 21 hectares (457m x 463m) in the south to approximately 16 hectares at the north of the province.  This is due to the longitude lines that gradually converge toward the North Pole.  Clients are limited to 100 selected cells per submission for acquisition as one claim. The number of submissions is not limited, but each submission for a claim must be completed through to payment before you can commence another registration.

When you have made your cell selection, you must confirm it and make payment electronically through your Visa, AMEX or MasterCard, or by cash or cheque if you are using a PC terminal in a government office.

  • Fee for Mineral Claim Registration: $1.75 per hectare
  • Fee for Placer Claim Registration: $5.00 per hectare

MTO will calculate the exact area in hectares according to the cells you select, and calculate the required fee.  The fee is charged for the entire cell, even though a portion may be unavailable due to a prior legacy title or alienated land.

Upon confirmation of payment, which is immediate, your title is issued. A title number will be issued for the registered claim.  You will receive an immediate email confirmation of your transaction and title.

MTO provides you with the GPS co-ordinates for the four corners of each cell in your claim. Using a GPS unit, you can easily determine the claim position on the ground.  For more information about obtaining coordinates using MTO, refer to the MTO Help Guide.

NOTE: Rights to any ground encumbered by existing legacy claims will not be granted with the cell claim except through the Conversion process. However, the rights held by a legacy claim or lease will accrue to the cell claim if the legacy claim or lease should terminate through forfeiture, abandonment, or cancellation, but not if the legacy claim is taken to lease.  Similarly, if a cell partially covers land that is alienated (park, etc) or a reserve, no rights to the alienated or reserved land are acquired; but if that alienation or reserve is subsequently rescinded, the rights held by the cell expand over the former alienated or reserve land within the border of the cell.

Upon registration, a cell claim is deemed to commence as of that date (“Date of Issue”), and is good until the “Expiry Date” (Good To Date) that is one year from the date of registration.  To maintain the claim beyond the expiry date, exploration and development work must be performed and registered, or a payment instead of exploration and development may be registered [refer to the section "Maintaining Claims" below for more information on claim maintenance].  If the claim is not maintained, it will forfeit at the end of the “expiry date” and it is the responsibility of every recorded holder to maintain their claims; no notice of pending forfeiture is sent to the recorded holder.


Maintaining claims

A mineral or placer claim has a set expiry date (the “Good To Date”), and in order to maintain the claim beyond that expiry date, the recorded holder (or an agent) must, on or before the expiry date, register either exploration and development work that was performed on the claim, or a payment instead of exploration and development.  Failure to maintain a claim results in automatic forfeiture at the end (midnight) of the expiry date; there is no notice to the claim holder prior to forfeiture.

When exploration and development work or a payment instead of work is registered, you may advance the claim forward to any new date.  With a payment instead of work the minimum requirement is 6 months, and the new date cannot exceed one year from the current expiry date; with work, it may be any date up to a maximum of ten years beyond the current anniversary year.  “Anniversary year” means the period of time that you are now in from the last expiry date to the next immediate expiry date.

All recorded holders of a claim must hold a valid FMC when either work or a payment is registered on the claim.

Clients need to register a certain value of work or a "cash-in-lieu of work" payment to their claims in MTO.  The following are the costs required to maintain a claim for one year:

Mineral Claim - Work Requirement:

  • $5 per hectare for anniversary years 1 and 2;
  • $10 per hectare for anniversary years 3 and 4;
  • $15 per hectare for anniversary years 5 and 6; and
  • $20 per hectare for subsequent anniversary years

Mineral Claim - Cash-in-lieu of work:

  • $10 per hectare for anniversary years 1 and 2;
  • $20 per hectare for anniversary years 3 and 4;
  • $30 per hectare for anniversary years 5 and 6; and
  • $40 per hectare for subsequent anniversary years

Placer Claim - Work Requirement:

  • $20 per hectare

Placer Claim - Cash-in-lieu of work:

  • $40 per hectare

A permit is required before any work is performed on a claim.  Permitting is administered by the regional mining offices (not the Mineral Titles Branch).  


What is exploration and development work?

Exploration and development work is defined in section 1 of the Mineral Tenure Act Regulation as either physical exploration and development or technical exploration and development.

"Physical exploration and development" includes:

if the work is related to a mineral claim, any of the following:

  • trenching, open cuts, adits, pits, shafts and other underground activity for the purposes of collecting samples or other geological or technical information;
  • reclamation related to exploration and development activities;
  • ground control surveys, line cutting and grids that support an activity described in paragraphs (b) to (h) of the definition of technical exploration and development;
  • precision survey techniques such as global positioning or surveys conducted by a practising land surveyor;

if the work is related to a placer claim, any of the following:

  • activities referred to in paragraph (a);
  • panning, digging or washing of gravels to test for the presence of economically significant minerals;

"technical exploration and development" for mineral claims and placer claims includes:

  • archaeological impact assessments;
  • geological surveys and studies;
  • mineral resource or ore reserve calculations and related work;
  • geophysical surveys;
  • geochemical surveys;
  • drilling, including drilling for the purposes of collecting samples, core logging or other geological or technical information;
  • analysis of mineral or rock samples including a bulk sample to assess characteristics pertinent to the assessment of the mineral resource, including acid base accounting, metallurgical, mineralogical, beneficiation and petrological studies;
  • prospecting and exploring;
  • environmental baseline studies;
  • construction and maintenance of roads, trails, helicopter landing sites, drill sites and drill core storage if required to support an activity described in any of paragraphs (b) to (i);
  • preparation and geological interpretation of air photo, satellite or other remotely sensed images that support an activity described in paragraphs (a) to (i);
  • preparation of orthophoto and topological surveys that support an activity described in paragraphs (a) to (i);
  • compilations of previous exploration and development studies and reports if those compilations lead to new exploration and development;
  • any other similar activity that may be approved by the chief gold commissioner before the exploration and development is done;



Registration of exploration and development work

This is a two-step process:

  1. Registering the work in MTO
  2. Submitting the work report to mineral titles

Registering the work

You can register work on one or more claims in one statement of work (SOW) event in Mineral Titles Online (MTO), as long as the claims are contiguous (adjoining).

Leases or crown grants can be used to make your claim contiguous; however, work performed on a lease or crown grant may not be filed on the claim(s).

One report is required for a work program, regardless of the number of claims. The Mineral Tenure Act Regulation outlines registering exploration and development for a claim.

Submitting the work report

Physical work report submissions are required 30 days from the date of registration of work in MTO. The Physical Work Report Form, along with a location map of the work performed will need to be submitted.

Technical work report submissions are required 90 days from the date of registration of the work in MTO. Schedule A of the Mineral Tenure Act Regulation sets out the guidelines for reporting exploration and development work, section 16 sets out the reporting requirements for technical report submissions.

While your technical assessment report is still submitted to the Mineral Titles office, the Geologic Survey Branch accepts digital data files (spreadsheets, databases, maps, grids) used or created for the technical work in an assessment report.



Portable Assessment Credit (PAC)

Credits from a portable assessment credit account (PAC) may be registered only as follows:

  1. You may use PAC for 30% of the requirement when technical work is being recorded.
  2. Once during the life of any claim that has a minimum of ten years of work recorded on it, you may apply up to five years of PAC credit.

Note: converting a legacy claim to cell claim creates a new claim from the date of conversion, and the 100% PAC credit cannot be applied until there is a minimum of ten years work registered on the cell claim.


Payment instead of exploration and development ("Cash-in-Lieu")

A payment instead of exploration and development work (PIED) may be registered to maintain a claim to any date with a minimum requirement of 6 months to a maximum of one year.  A payment may only be registered for the next immediate anniversary year, for example you may only register a payment during the anniversary year immediately preceding the expiry date of the claim.

All recorded holders of the claim must hold a valid FMC when the payment is registered.


Forfeiture of legacy and cell claims

If exploration and development work or a payment instead of work is not registered to keep a legacy or cell claim in good standing, the title will automatically forfeit back to the government at midnight at the end of the expiry date (anniversary date).

Upon forfeiture, a legacy claim automatically accrues into the overlying cell. If this cell is held as a cell claim, the legacy claim ground will become part of that cell claim.

Following the forfeiture of a cell claim, the cells comprising that claim will be available for registration as a new cell claim. Forfeitures occur at midnight and availability of these forfeited cells occurs at 10am.

Upon forfeiture of a lease, the mineral or placer rights held by the lease automatically accrue into the overlying cells. If such a cell is held by a cell claim, the former lease ground becomes part of the cell claim.