Making a Registration in MTO
- Acquiring a Cell Claim
- Conversion of Legacy Claims to Cell Claims
- Claim Maintenance
- Amalgamation and Reduction of Cell Claims
- Transferring Interest in a Claim or Lease and Registering Miscellaneous Documents
Mineral rights may be acquired by registering a mineral cell claim, and placer mineral rights by registering a placer cell claim. In both cases, the cell claim acquires the available mineral or placer mineral rights within the cells included in the claim.
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a reserve, no rights to the alienated or reserved land are acquired; but if that alienation or reserve is subsequently rescinded, the rights held by the cell expand over the former alienated or reserve land within the border of the cell.
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.
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” 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.
- Frequently Asked Questions - Acquiring a Cell Claim (PDF)
- Information Update No. 7: A Guide to Surface and Subsurface Rights and Responsibilities in British Columbia (PDF)
Registering a Cell Claim
To register a cell claim, a person must have a BCeID. A current valid free miner certificate (FMC) must be held by the person who is to be the recorded holder. The FMC requirements are set out in section 8 of the Mineral Tenure Act.
Frequently Asked Questions:
You register a cell claim by selecting one or more adjoining cells on the electronic MTO map. 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, but if payment is not successfully completed within 30 minutes the cells become available to anyone.
The electronic Internet map allows you to select single or multiple adjoining grid cells. 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 computer terminal in a government office. The fee for mineral cell claim registration is $1.75 per hectare, and $5.00 per hectare for a placer cell claim; 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 tenure number will be issued for the cell or group of adjoining cells that you select as the claim. You'll receive an immediate email confirmation of your transaction and title—no waiting and no uncertainties.
This process makes claim acquisition fair and accessible to everyone.
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 - Cell Coordinates (PDF).
Partial Cell Acquisition
Cells that are partially encumbered by one or more legacy claims but that have some unencumbered (open) ground are available for registration of a cell claim by any free miner. The cell claim will acquire the rights to the available ground within the cell.
Upon termination of the legacy claim through forfeiture, abandonment, conversion or cancellation, the mineral or placer mineral rights to the ground encumbered by that legacy claim will accrue to the cell and become part of the cell claim. These rights will not accrue to the cell if the legacy claim is taken to lease.
Claims that were located and recorded under the former ground staking method are termed legacy claims. These claims can be maintained "as is" under MTO. However, you have the opportunity to convert any of your legacy claims to cell claims.
For a period of six months from January 12 to July 11, 2005, all mineral cells that were partially encumbered by a legacy mineral claim could only be acquired by the recorded holder of that legacy claim through the conversion event; a similar provision for placer existed from January 12 to November 30, 2005. This provided legacy claim holders with time to assess whether or not they wished to convert, thus enabling them to make a business decision before the cells became available to other free miners. The conversion provision still exists, but cells partially encumbered by a legacy claim may now be acquired as a cell claim by any free miner.
Where there are two or more legacy claims with different holders, the first holder to convert will acquire the cell. The cell claim will only convey the rights held by that holder's legacy claim, plus any available ground within the cell; no rights to another holder’s legacy claim are conveyed. However, should those legacy claims subsequently terminate, the mineral or placer mineral rights held by those legacy claims will automatically accrue into the cell claim.
The expiry date of the cell claim will be the same as the expiry date of the legacy claim. Where you have two or more adjoining legacy claims, you may convert them to one cell claim, and the expiry date of the cell claim will be the earliest expiry date of the legacy claims.
There will be no fee to register cell claims through conversion of legacy claims. Upon registration of the cell claim, the legacy claim(s) are terminated in their entirety. Therefore, if you are considering conversion of a legacy claim, understand that if any cell partially encumbered by that legacy claim has already been acquired as a cell claim, you will lose that portion of your legacy claim ground within that cell upon conversion.
Exploration and development work performed on a legacy claim that is subsequently converted may be registered on the converted cell claim, provided the work is registered within one year of the date of completion.
- Information Update No. 13: Legacy Claim Conversion to Cell Claim (PDF)
- MTO Help Guide - Claim Conversion (PDF)
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 either 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, this 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.
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;
- global positioning surveys in accordance with section 20;
- 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;
There were some significant changes in the fore-going that were introduced in January 2005:
- Road and trail work, whether construction or upgrading, cannot be registered on its own as physical work; road and trail work is only acceptable when it is part of a technical work program.
- Travel and accommodation costs are not acceptable on their own; if other physical or technical work was performed, travel and accommodation costs may be included.
- General property evaluations and similar activities are not acceptable.
- Ground control surveys, line cutting and grids cannot be registered as stand-alone physical work, but only as part of a technical work program.
Registration of Exploration and Development Work
Here is a summary of requirements respecting exploration and development work used for claim maintenance:
- You must register work online (indicating the type of work) and make the required payment, on or before the due expiry date of the claim; if this is not done, the claim automatically forfeits at the end (midnight) of the expiry date.
- Work details must be submitted in a report for both physical work and technical work; physical work reports must be submitted within 30 days of registering the work, and technical reports within 90 days of registration of the work. Reports may be upload to MTO or sent to the Vancouver Mineral Titles office, or submitted in the Vancouver Mineral Titles office or any Service BC office or Front Counter BC office, or submitted digitally as an attachment to an email.
- Work must be registered within one year of the completion of the work program, regardless of claim dates; the former requirement to record work on a claim during the same anniversary year is gone. "Completion" means completion of the ground portion of the work.
- Work values and recording fees have not changed, but they are now calculated on a per hectare basis and prorated if more or less than one year's credit is being applied to the claim.
To be allowed for assessment credit on a mineral or placer claim, the work must be one or more of the types of work defined in the Regulation as set out above.
Portable Assessment Credit (PAC)
Credits from a portable assessment credit account (PAC) may be registered only as follows:
- You may use PAC for 30% of the requirement when technical work is being recorded.
- 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
A payment instead of exploration and development may be registered to maintain a claim to any date within one year from the current expiry date. A payment may only be registered for the next immediate anniversary year, i.e., 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. As this will occur during the early morning (after midnight), it is conceivable that a free miner may not be able to register a cell claim immediately. All government systems are backed up during the early morning hours.
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.
- Information Update No. 8: Guide to the Evaluation of Physical Work for Assessment Credit on Claims (PDF)
- Information Update No. 14: Submitting Exploration and Development Work Reports (PDF)
- Information Update No. 25: Physical Exploration and Development Work (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions - Reports (PDF)
Adjoining cell claims may be amalgamated into one cell claim. “Adjoin” means to share a common boundary along one side, not just at a corner. There is no limit to the number of adjoining cell claims that can be combined into one claim.
The amalgamated claim is a new cell claim issued as of the date you register the amalgamation. The expiry date (due anniversary date) is the earliest expiry date of the claims being amalgamated.
Titleholders should consider the following before deciding to amalgamate cell claims:
- Amalgamation is not the equivalent of grouping, or acquiring a common anniversary date. An amalgamation creates a new claim.
- As the amalgamated claim is a new claim, exploration and development work performed on the former cell claims cannot be registered on the amalgamated claim; if work was done it should be registered on the existing cell claims before they are amalgamated, and registered such that the expiry dates are close; the expiry date of the amalgamated claim will be the earliest expiry date of the existing claims.
- The new amalgamated claim will cover the area of the former cell claims as one tenure. Should the need arise for a lease, the entire claim must be taken to lease. There is no provision to divide a cell claim.
Reduction of Cell Claims
Reduction under MTO is applicable to cell claims comprised of two or more cells. The recorded holder may reduce a cell claim by deleting any number of cells. The reduced claim must be comprised of cells that adjoin, which means each cell has a common side boundary with another cell. There can be no internal voids in the cell claim after reduction, that is, no open areas completely surrounded by the claim cells.
Registering a Bill of Sale
A recorded holder of a mineral title (the seller) may transfer all or part of their interest in a mineral title to another free miner (the purchaser) who has a BCeID. The purchaser must agree and accept the transfer to complete it.
The seller registers a Bill of Sale Initiation. Within 30 days, the purchaser must log in to MTO and complete the transfer. The purchaser must hold a valid FMC in order to complete the transfer.
If the transfer is not completed within the 30 days, the registration of the Bill of Sale Initiation is automatically invalidated. Initiating a transfer does not affect the title in any way. The existing recorded holder is able to register any events, including other transfers, until such time as the transfer is completed by the purchaser.
The transfer of ownership in a mineral title takes effect on acceptance and completion of the registration of the transfer and payment of the prescribed fee by the transferee [section 12(4) of the Regulation].
Registering a Miscellaneous Document (General Encumbrance)
A copy of a document or notice relating to a mineral title may be submitted for registration in the Victoria or Vancouver Mineral Titles offices or any Service BC Government Agent or Front Counter BC office. Mineral Titles staff will enter the document in the registry. The registration fee is $10 per title, and must be submitted in cash, cheque or money order, or through Interact if available in the recording office.
Documents that may be registered under this provision include builders lien, lis pendens, mortgage, option agreement, writ of seizure and other court orders, debenture, quit claim, release of any of these, and any other document relating to a mineral title. The mineral titles on which the document or order is to be registered must be specified by tenure number in the document or in a covering notice or letter.
Except in the case of court orders, Mineral Titles does not take action to enforce any document registered under this provision.
A lease is the production tenure for mining. A claim allows the holder to explore and develop the mineral or placer mineral resource, and contains a production limit for mineral claims of 1000 tonnes of ore in a year from each unit in a legacy claim or each cell in a cell claim, and for placer claims of 2000 cubic metres of pay dirt from each legacy claim in a year or 1000 cubic metres of pay dirt from each cell in a cell claim in a year. A bulk sample of up to 10000 tonnes of ore may be extracted from a mineral claim not more than once every five years. Production beyond these limits requires a lease tenure.
Leases are issued according to a survey plan, and for a specific term. A lease is maintained by payment of the annual rental of $10 per hectare for a mining lease and $5 per hectare for a placer lease. There are no work requirements on a lease, but the term of a lease will only be renewed if the lease is required for a mining activity.
Application for Lease
The recorded holder (or authorized agent) of a mineral claim may register an application for a mining lease online. Similarly, the recorded holder of a placer claim may register an application for a placer lease online. There is a registration fee of $100 per application.
One or more adjoining claims may be taken to a lease, and the claims may be legacy, cell or a combination, provided they adjoin.
Upon registration of a lease application, Mineral Titles staff will contact the applicant respecting the type of survey that must be completed. Upon approval of the survey, the lease application must be advertised according to the requirements in section 42(2) of the Act for a mining lease, or section 18 of the Regulation for a placer lease. More detailed information may be obtained from Mineral Titles staff.
Payment of Annual Rental on a Lease
A lease is maintained by payment of the annual rental of $20 per hectare for a mining lease or $20 per hectare for a surveyed placer lease. The recorded holder or authorized agent registers the payment online. If this is not done on or before the due anniversary date, Mineral Titles staff will send a notice requiring payment within 30 days. If not paid, the Chief Gold Commissioner may order the forfeiture of the lease.
During the last year of the current lease term, the application for a term extension must be registered prior to registering the annual rental.
The above provisions apply to all mining leases and those placer leases that were issued under the Mineral Tenure Act as a Lease of Placer Minerals (LPM). A placer lease (termed a PL) issued under the former Mining (Placer) Act has automatic forfeiture if the rental of $250 is not registered by the end of the due expiry date; the notice provision does not apply to a PL. Also, the current term of a PL cannot be extended [section 47(2) of the Mineral Tenure Act.
Applying for a Term Extension of a Lease
A lease may be issued for a specific term. The recorded holder of a lease may apply for a renewal of the lease term a term during the last year of an existing term. If no application is made to renew the lease term, the lease expires and is forfeited on the last day of the existing term.
Information must be provided to satisfy the Chief Gold Commissioner that the lease is required for a mining activity. It is therefore recommended that application for a term extension be registered early in the last anniversary year. Mineral Titles staff will contact the recorded holder following registration of the application for the term extension to obtain the information required to review the application.