Mineral Exploration

Mineral Exploration

Explore for minerals through mechanized means, with minimal disturbance to the ground and the environment.

Related Activities: Coal Exploration, Crown Land Quarry, Placer Exploration, Quarry - Construction Aggregate, Quarry - Industrial Mineral, Sand and Gravel Pit


About this Activity Guide

This guide summarizes the most common requirements and recommendations for your chosen activity and is designed to help you submit a complete application. Be aware that this information is for guidance purposes only.

Mandatory Authorizations

Authorization Name Link to Authorization Guidance Link to Application
Free Miner Certificate (Mineral Tenure Act) Authorization Guidance Apply Now
Mineral Claim (Mineral Tenure Act) Authorization Guidance Apply Now
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) Authorization Guidance Apply Now


Cost may be a specific value or range of values. The cost includes GST, where applicable.

Authorization Cost Type Cost Description Cost Link to Details
Free Miner Certificate (Mineral Tenure Act) Application Fee Required by applicants less than 65 years of age Individual: $25
Corporate: $500
Fees - Mineral and Placer Titles
Mineral Claim (Mineral Tenure Act) Acquisition Fee Amount required to acquire a mineral claim. $1.75/ha Fees - Mineral and Placer Titles
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) No Fees for exploration activities n/a n/a Mines Fee Regulation

Eligibility Requirements

Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements prior to applying.

Authorization Requirement Description
Free Miner Certificate (Mineral Tenure Act)
  • Age
  • Citizenship
  • 18 years of age minimum
  • Canadian Citizen or corporation, Permanent Resident or authorized to work in Canada
Mineral Claim (Mineral Tenure Act)
  • Business BCeID
  • Free Miner Certificate
  • You must have a Business BCeID to use Mineral Titles Online to obtain a Free Miner Certificate and acquire a claim
  • A Free Miner Certificate must be obtained before using Mineral Titles Online to acquire a claim.
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) Proof that you hold a mineral claim, or permission from the holder of the mineral claim. If you are not the mineral claim holder, a letter of authorization signed and dated by the holder of the mineral claim, granting you authority to apply on their behalf and/or conduct work on the property with a valid mineral claim.

Information Requirements

Authorization Requirement Description Link to Details
Free Miner Certificate (Mineral Tenure Act) Free Miner Certificate Application Full name, contact details, identification of age (over 18 or over 65), Canadian resident, consent to disclosure of information and signature. Free Miner Certificate Application
Mineral Claim (Mineral Tenure Act) Online Acquisition of Claim Use Mineral Titles Online to acquire a claim using an electronic Internet map that allows you to select single or multiple adjoining grid cells. Mineral Titles Online
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) Online Notice of Work Application Form The application asks for information regarding your proposal, such as:
  • Mine Number (if existing) and Property Name
  • Latitude and longitude of the project location in decimal degree format
  • Any early engagement with Indigenous peoples regarding this application
  • Tenure Information for the proposed mining activity
  • Private land ownership, community watershed and park overlap details
  • Duration / term of proposed mining activity
  • Description of work program in such detail that provides a clear understanding of the types and scope of the activities being conducted
  • A complete list of mining-related activities to be undertaken, with proposed disturbance dimensions. (e.g. roads/trails, drill pads with sumps, trenching/test pits, pit run etc.)
  • Full reclamation plan of all the proposed mining activities (timing, disturbance area and estimated cost) consider progressive reclamation
  • How you will access your mine site including existing access, construction and stream crossings details (road length, culverts, etc.)
  • Details about water use or changes you may make in or about a stream
  • Detailed directions from public roads to the mine site
  • Current state of land (vegetation, access, physiography, structures, etc.)
  • For production mines, proposed maximum annual tonnage to be extracted

Detailed guidance on these requirements is available on the Notice of Work Overview page at https://portal.nrs.gov.bc.ca/web/client/-/notice-of-work and applicants are encouraged to consult that information prior to starting their application.
Notice of Work Authorization Guidance
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) A Location Map, a Tenure Map and Map(s) of Proposed Work There are several publicly available online mapping tools to help you with your mapping.

The recommended program for Notice of Work maps is iMapBC.

Need help with mapping? Don’t have access to GIS software to produce geospatial files? Please use the Mines Act Application iMapBC Reference Guide to produce maps and geospatial files that meet the standards, and the Mineral and Coal Exploration Notice of Work Application Companion Part 1.4, or hire an agent to help you.

General map requirements:

  • Computer generated using GIS specific software (iMapBC guidance available here)
  • Clear and legible
  • Consistent mapping symbology
  • Consistent mapping content
  • At appropriate map scale to ensure everything is clearly visible (consider using overview map(s))
  • Metric units (ex. elevation contours in metres, disturbance areas in hectares)
  • Digital file size (under 100MB) and resolution (usually 300DPI or lower)

Required map elements:

  • North arrow to true north pointing to top of page
  • Map graticule/grid
  • Coordinate system and projection (either NAD 1983 BC Environment Alberta or UTM)
  • Map legend (utilize legend over labels)
  • Map title (Location, Title or Permit Map), author, and date
  • Page size map was created for (letter size preferred)
  • Scale bar and ratio (use whole numbers such as 1:2000 or 1:5000, not 1:1567)
  • Base mapping (hill shade, orthophoto/imagery, TRIM, road map, etc.)
A minimum of 3 maps are required: 1. Location Map, 2. Title Map, and 3. Proposed Permit Mine Area Map. Below are sub-lists of the items required on each of these maps

1. Location Map – all applications
  • Appropriate base mapping for understanding where the general location of the mine is in relation to communities/highways/landmarks
  • A labeled point location of the mine with its coordinates (same as the Geographic Coordinates of Mines Latitude and Longitude in the application form)
  • A labelled polygon representing the proposed and/or existing permitted mine area
  • A labelled access route highlighting the exact directions to the site
  • The nearest service community labelled with name
2.a. Title (Tenure) Map – mineral/coal exploration, industrial mineral quarries, and placer applications
  • Mineral, placer, or coal title(s), including crown grant(s), and indicate ownership
  • Proposed and/or existing permitted mine area
2.b. Land Title (or Licence of Occupation) Map – sand and gravel applications
  • Land title(s) and/or licence(s) of occupation in and surrounding the site, and indicate ownership
  • Proposed and/or existing permitted mine area
3.a. Proposed and/or Permitted Mine Area Map – mineral/coal exploration, and placer applications
  • Proposed and/or existing permitted mine area (same as proposed and/or existing MYAB area(s))
  • Site specific proposed disturbance and reclamation activities (separate map needed for MYAB Year 1 program)
  • Existing disturbance and reclamation activities
  • Elevation contours in metres
3.b. Proposed and/or Permitted Mine Area Map – sand and gravel, industrial mineral quarry, and bulk sample applications
  • Proposed and/or existing permitted mine area
  • Site specific proposed disturbance and reclamation activities, including phased mining activities and progressive reclamation
  • Existing disturbance and reclamation activities
  • Elevation contours in metres
  • Excavation setbacks as per HSRC 10.5.8 or 10.5.11
  • Cross and long section traces
4. Overview Map(s) – if necessary
  • Appropriate base mapping for understanding where the general location of the mine is in relation to communities/highways/landmarks
  • Location and extent of the larger scale maps included in the application

Maps & Geospatial Requirements:

NOTE: .zip files will not be accepted
  • I have files with Location, Title AND Proposed Permit Mine Area maps (PDF, JPG, etc.) under 100MB each
  • I have files with geospatial data of the proposed permit mine area (under 100MB each)
    • Shapefiles - .shp, .sbx, .dbf, AND .prj (BC Albers projection) PREFERRED, or
    • Google Earth - .kml or .kmz, or
    • Geomarks – URL
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) A digital spatial representation of the proposed permitted mine area (e.g., shapefile) Provide digital spatial representations, such as shapefiles, of your proposed permitted mine area. Shapefiles must include georeferenced polygons projected in BC Albers (including .shp, .sbx, .dbf and .prj). Other acceptable spatial data formats include .kml, .kmz and Geomark.

You can create a shapefile using iMapBC. Refer to the Save Markup to Shapefile section of the Mines Act Permit Application iMapBC Maps and Data Creation Reference Guide.
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) Mine Emergency Response Plan (MERP) A plan that explains how an emergency will be managed. MERP Guidelines for Mining Industry
Permit via Notice of Work (Mines Act) Archaeological Chance Find Procedure A documented set of actions that will be followed if any archaeological or heritage resource, artifact or item is found on the mine property. Archaeological Chance Find Procedure

Potential Additional Requirements

Requirement Description When is it Required?
Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) Approval Authorization for production mining activities within ALR-designated land for non-farm use. When you will be production mining within ALR-designated land for non-farm use.
Crown Land Authorization Authorization to use Crown land for mining activities. When you want to use Crown land that falls outside of your mineral tenure. E.g., staging areas, road/trail access, powerlines
Environmental Assessment Certificate A mechanism for reviewing major projects to assess their potential impacts. When Reviewable Projects Regulation criteria are met depending on the type of project.
Federal Authorizations Federal authorizations to address the parts of your proposal that may apply to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, Migratory Birds Regulation and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Assessments for projects near water. When disturbing fish habitat, impacting migratory birds or impacting navigable waters.
Highway Access Permit A permit which allows you to connect access to a provincial highway. When connecting access to a provincial highway.
Occupant Licence to Cut Authorization for cutting timber on Crown land. When cutting more than 50m3 timber from Crown land.
Local Government Zoning Bylaws Check applicable local government bylaws to identify any requirements. When activity is located within local government area such as a municipality.
Metal Leaching and Acid Rock Drainage (ML/ARD) Assessment Preventing impacts from ML/ARD is a highly important, costly and time-consuming environmental issue facing the British Columbia mining industry. Whenever significant bedrock or unconsolidated earth will be excavated or exposed. Applied to projects generating more than 1,000 tonnes of material.
Road Use Permit (RUP) A permit to allow use of an industrial Forest Service Road (FSR). When you need industrial use of a FSR.
Special Use Permit A forestry authorization that will allow you to build access across crown land. (e.g., access road) When access is required on crown land and it is not within your claim boundary.
Waste Discharge Authorization Authorization granting permission to discharge waste. When discharging waste to the receiving environments, such as water from settling ponds.
Water Rights Authorization under the Water Sustainability Act which allows you to use freshwater, or to work in or around freshwater. If you will be using or working in or around freshwater. Please refer to the Water Policy Bulletin for Water Use for Mineral Exploration and Placer Mining (PDF, 179KB) for further information.
Link Description
Mines Act The legislation for Mines.
Mineral Tenure Act The Mineral Tenure Act is the primary statute that authorizes the registration of mineral and placer titles with the Province and provides the policy framework for Mineral Titles administration.
Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia Protects workers and the public through provisions for minimizing the health, safety and environmental risks related to mining activities.
Mapping Tools A listing of free web-based mapping programs and tools available to the public.

Other Things You Should Know

Archaeology Information
Archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act and must not be altered or damaged without a permit issued by the Archaeology Branch. Information regarding potential risks to protected archaeological sites may be obtained by submitting an online data request form to the Archaeology Branch or by contacting a professional archaeologist via the BC Association of Professional Archaeologists (www.bcapa.ca) or via local directories. Visit the Archaeology Branch website for more information.

BCeID - What Is It and Why Get It?
BCeID is an online service that allows you to create a user ID and password to sign in securely to many Government services in British Columbia. The benefits of having a BCeID account include:

  • Stop and start. Save and return later to complete your application without losing any information previously entered.
  • Real time status information. Check the status of your application in real time.
  • Access your applications for multiple people (Business BCeID only) to edit or submit your application or check its status. To enroll in this service, visit the BCeID web page: FrontCounter BC - BCeID

Consulting with First Nations

  • The Province is committed to reconciliation as part of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act.
  • The Province is responsible for ensuring adequate and appropriate consultation and accommodation, it may involve the proponent in the procedural aspects of consultation.
Proponents are encouraged to engage with First Nations as early as possible in the planning stages to build relationships and for information sharing purposes. To get more information about the guidelines and procedure manuals that are designed to assist government officials and proponents with meeting consultation obligations, please visit the Consulting with First Nations web page.

Legal Disclaimer
This guide provides the most current and accurate information available to the Government of British Columbia at the time of publishing; however, we make no warranty regarding the completeness, currency or accuracy of this information. This information is for guidance purposes only and does not replace legislated requirements. Each application is unique and circumstances may result in additional requirements beyond those included in this guide.

Last Updated: July 14, 2023