Canada: Changes To Mineral Tenure Act Regulation In British Columbia

Many Free Miners will see their fees pursuant to the Mineral Tenure Act Regulation (the Regulation) change dramatically with changes implemented on July 1, 2012 (the Amendments). While the Ministry of Energy and Mines (the Ministry) maintains that the Amendments are as revenue-neutral as possible, the reality is that many will see their operational costs increase depending both on how their claims are managed and what stage of development their claims are at.

For those fairly comfortable with the long-standing procedures and fee structure in place pursuant to the Regulations, the Amendments are a significant overhaul and will substantially alter the processes involved in acquiring and maintaining title. Delays can be damaging to any mining operation and all those with a vested interest would be well served to seek legal advice to determine how the Amendments will affect their operations.

Registration Fees

The Amendments will abandon most of the registration fees presently required by the Ministry. Specifically, the Amendments abolish the registration fees associated with: exploration and development work; changing a claim's expiry date; making payments instead of exploration and development; using a claim's one-time 100% Portable Assessment Credit (PAC); amalgamating a claim; reducing a cell claim; and transferring ownership.

The changes are intended to increase the efficiency of the system and encourage Free Miners to submit all of their work by reducing the fee categories from 18 to 10. It is hoped this will provide the Ministry with more complete knowledge of the geological work being undertaken on mineral claims in British Columbia by removing a bar to Free Miners registering their work. Finally, this change attempts to make the Amendments as revenue-neutral as possible which is one of the Ministry's stated goals in implementing these changes.

Tenure Acquisition

There will be two changes to the tenure acquisition system currently in place: first, the number of cells that can be selected when registering an individual claim will be increased from 25 to 100; and second, the registration fees for claims will be increased. For mineral cell claims, the per hectare fee will increase from C$0.40 to C$1.75. Placer cell claims will see their registration fees rise from C$2 to C$5 per hectare.

The increase in cell selection per claim works in concert with the addition of a subdivision structure in the Amendments to allow Free Miners to exert greater control over the size and boundaries of their claims. The Amendment to the registration fees is a market correction for fee values that have not changed in more than two decades. Moreover, this acquisition fee increase is also used to combat a regulatory oversight that has been exploited in recent years. Under the current Regulations, it is often more cost-effective for Free Miners to let their claims expire on an annual basis and then reacquire them immediately thereafter in order to avoid having to meet any maintenance requirements. The increase of the acquisition fees is an attempt by the Ministry to close this loophole. Lastly, both of these changes to the Regulations with respect to tenure acquisition accomplish another of the Ministry's stated goals – to update certain structural elements of the Regulations.

Work Requirements

The Amendments will make significant alterations to the work requirements involved in the maintenance of a claim. Specifically, a new four-tier system for mineral claims will be implemented to replace the old two-tier model. Along with this, the tiered assessment work requirements (which will continue to be assessed on a per hectare basis) will increase to C$5 for the first two years, C$10 for the third and fourth year, C$15 for years five and six and for any subsequent year the value will be C$20. The current Regulations are structured with a C$4 registered work value for years one through three, followed by an C$8 value for all subsequent years. For placer claims, the one-tier assessment work requirement will continue, but the value will increase from C$10 per hectare to C$20.

The alterations to the work requirements, along with the Payment Instead of Exploration and Development (the PIED) and PAC changes, serve as a response to industry concerns about the preponderance of undeveloped mineral claims in British Columbia. The Ministry is trying to encourage more exploration and development on mineral lands through this amendment. The work requirement changes force Free Miners to conduct more work on their claims in order to avoid the PIED. The Amendments will see the work requirements in British Columbia fall in line with provincial standards across Canada as the requirements have not been updated in a number of decades.

Payment Instead of Exploration and Development

For Free Miners intending to maintain their claims through the PIED, the Amendments stipulate that the PIED will be double the value of the corresponding exploration and development work that would otherwise be required to maintain the claim. Moreover, the PIED will now have a minimum pro-rated period of six months (a substantial increase from the one-day minimum stipulated by the current Regulations). This means even if a Free Miner wishes to maintain a claim for an extra day beyond the expiry date, they will have to register a PIED for a minimum of six months to do so.

A stated goal of the Ministry with respect to the Amendments is to increase the amount of mineral land available. It is hoped the alterations to the PIED will help accomplish this by making it more onerous for Free Miners to hold tenure of mineral lands without actually registering any work on it. An ancillary purpose of this increase is to discourage mineral land speculation to some degree.

Lease Rental Rates

Another change stemming from the Amendments is that lease rental rates will increase dramatically. For mineral leases, the rental rates will go from C$10 per hectare to C$20. Placer leases will see an even greater increase as they rise from C$5 to C$20 per hectare.

Placer Claim Production Limits

In response to two key industry concerns – that production limits are too low and that the limits for cell and legacy claims need to be harmonized – production limits will be raised for placer claims. Under the current Regulations, placer claims can produce 1,000m3 of paydirt per cell or 2,000m3 from each legacy claim. The Amendments will allow for a 20,000m3 production limit from each cell claim or legacy claim.


To increase available mineral land, the Amendments will enable the subdivision of cell claims. Subdivision lets the recorded holder subdivide the original claim by registering two or more new subdivided cell claims (there are various stipulations as to the implications and requirements for a subdivision event and they can be found in section 5.1 of the Amendments). This Amendment provides Free Miners a vehicle with which to subdivide and sell off any parts of their claims that they are not using or any parts they simply wish to sell.

Portable Assessment Credits

To further the broad policy of encouraging more exploration and development work on mineral lands, the Amendments will increase the value of credits required for a PAC from C$16 per hectare per year to C$40. This increase to the per hectare credits required to maintain a claim pursuant to section 31 of the Mineral Tenure Act has the effect of draining each claim's PAC account much quicker than under the current Regulations. This means that Free Miners will either need significantly more work assessment credits to maintain their claim through a PAC, or they must register more work on an annual basis in order to maintain their claim while avoiding assessment of the increased PIED values.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
13 Dec 2017, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Class actions across Canada continue to grow in volume and complexity, triggering significant policy and financial implications for businesses in Canada. With the Law Commission of Ontario’s recent announcement that it is reactivating its comprehensive review of class actions in Ontario, we may see important law reform on the horizon to evolve with the changing landscape.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions