FAQ About Map Selection of Mineral Claims in Nunavut

What is Nunavut Map Selection?

Nunavut Map Selection is a project involving a change from mineral claim ground staking to an online selection of mineral claims on map using a computer system in Nunavut. The new "unit claims" will be made of a collection of contiguous units selected from a predefined grid. The project includes two main components: a multi-year IT project and regulatory amendments to the Nunavut Mining Regulations to operationalize map selection.

What grid will the units be based on?

The grid will be based on the Canada Oil and Gas Land Regulations grid description. The minimum size of a claim will be established as one unit of 15 to 25 hectares depending on its location in the territory (average of 18 hectares) with a maximum of 100 units (approximately 1,800 hectares). A Shapefile of the grid can be downloaded from NRCan website or can be visualized using the Nunavut Map Viewer.

How is the project implemented?

The project is split into two phases: the first phase mainly concerns the IT system; it will implement all the functionality that is not dependent on the regulatory amendments in multiple releases. This includes a new internal system for the management of mineral tenures, a map viewer and limited access by authenticated external users (users having obtained a user name and password). The second phase will deliver the full Map Selection System functionality and will coincide with the coming into force of the regulatory amendments, including transitory measures. The two-phased approach will allow INAC to work out technical and organizational issues and will facilitate the transition to Map Selection. INAC staff will be familiar with the user interface so they will be able to assist new users who have questions on how to complete transactions.

What progress has INAC made and what is planned for the future?

INAC implemented the new internal system for the management of mineral tenure on March 31, 2014. In April 2015, the Nunavut Map Viewer was made public and spatial information on mineral tenure became available through the Open Data portal.

Since March 2016, all clients were granted access to limited functionality when authenticated. This allows them to learn how to use the system and print basic reports related to mineral tenure.

When can we expect to use map selection as a way to acquire mineral claims in Nunavut?

INAC is currently working with the Department of Justice to develop proposed amendments to the Nunavut Mining Regulations to implement map selection. The ability to fully use the Map Selection System (phase 2) is dependent on the completion of this regulatory amendment process. INAC will provide regular updates on progress.

I own mineral claims and mining leases. What will happen to them when the new regulations implementing map selection become effective?

All existing rights on the coming into force of the new regulations will be maintained and transitory measures will be put into place. The proposed regulations will establish a mandatory one-time conversion of ground staked claims to grid-based claims called "unit claims" depicted on a map, with the exception of claims subject to existing leases which will not be converted.

As there will be no more reduction of claims on the ground by staking using reduced area tags, the reduction of the area of the existing (ground) leases, which is currently possible on renewal, will not be allowed anymore. However, it will be possible to reduce the unit claims once a year or the leases of unit claims on renewal by simply removing units from the claims using the Map Selection System.

Why don't you allow for the maintenance of existing ground staked claims and are you proposing a mandatory conversion?

After analysis on the pros and cons of the optional conversion of ground staked claims into unit grid-based claims, INAC determined that the optional conversion would not be internally sustainable on administrative and technical points of view. In addition, the optional conversion, in requiring the maintenance of two regimes of mineral rights administration in parallel - one for ground claims and one for unit claims - would have resulted in a much more complex regulatory framework.

The approach where all ground claims are converted into unit claims will simplify the proposed regulations while maintaining the rights of existing claim holders.

Can you describe the process for conversion of ground claims?

Conversion is the process by which an existing ground claim is transformed into grid units. The converted unit claims will have a new duration of 30 years, same as any new unit claims that will be recorded after the coming into force of the new regulations. The history of the ground claims, including the excess cost of work credits, will be carried forward and existing grouping will be maintained.

On the 91st day after the coming into force of the new regulations, existing claims that are not contiguous to other claims will be expanded to include the entire available area of all grid units they occupy. The objective is to eliminate all areas of open Crown lands (free spaces) within a unit. Note that the unit claims will exclude the lands that form part of existing prospecting permits or mining leases or lands that are not open for prospecting such as lands of a park and Inuit owned lands with sub-surface rights. It remains the responsibility of the claim holder to determine where the boundary of his claim is on the ground in relation to other lands. Bottom line no existing ground claims will have their area reduced as a result of the conversion but some of them could be expanded to fill areas of open Crown lands. It is estimated that the expansion will increase the total area of mineral claims by approximately 7%. Note that the expansion will not increase the cost of work required on a claim under the new rules because this cost will be based on the number of units in a claim and not on the area of the claim.

Claim holders will have the opportunity to reduce the area of their claims by removing selected units contained in the claim and there will be no administrative fee for that transaction under the new regulations. All units that become free of claims, as a result reduction or cancellation, will be available for selection.

To visualize the effects of the one-time conversion of claims, a document explaining the expansion and reduction principles with illustrated examples is available.

How are you going to manage multiple ground claims within a unit?

This situation represents only 0.5% of the total area currently covered by mineral claims. New regulations will include provisions to manage units containing multiple ground claims plus sliver of open Crown land (free space). On the 91st day after the coming into force of the new regulations, based on the principle of "first come, first served", the claim that was staked first will be expanded to fill the open (free) space within the unit. After conversion the expansion of claims based on the same principle will continue to apply as a consequence of the reduction of a claim or cancellation of its registration. The long-term objective of the expansion principle is to eliminate as much as possible of subdivisions (multiple claims) within a unit.

What is going to happen to my prospecting permits after the coming into force of the new regulations?

The proposed regulations will repeal the sections of the Nunavut Mining Regulations related to acquiring new prospecting permits and you will no longer have the opportunity to apply for a prospecting permit. The plan is to naturally follow the existing life cycle in the former regulations (2014) which means that prospecting permits will be allowed to exist until they expire, given that the requirements of the former regulations re prospecting permits are satisfied. If you are an owner of a prospecting permit you will be able to select unit claims within the permit zone as long as you have confirmation that at least $0.25 per hectare of work has been done on the permit area.

Will licences to prospect continue to be required?

Yes, a valid licence to prospect will continue to be needed for specific transactions on mineral rights. The fee for licences to prospect remains at $5/year for an individual and $50/year for a company. The period of validity of a licence issued under the current regulations will be maintained under the new regulations and the licence will continue to have to be renewed annually.

Will I be able to manage my mineral claims, licences to prospect, and mining leases through the online Map Selection System?

Yes, Map Selection System will allow users to manage their own tenures online. However much of the transactions will continue to require approval from the Mining Recorder. Mineral tenure owners may also assign a person to complete any specific task on their behalf.

All applications, requests and documents will be submitted through the online system with two exceptions: the reports on work, which will continue to be submitted to the Mining Recorder by mail or in person, as well as the mining royalty return which will continue to be sent to the Chief of Royalties Administration by traditional means. All the authorizations, with the exception of the mining leases, will be delivered through the system.

Will the proposed regulations modify the royalties provisions?

There will be no changes to the royalties sections.

What will be the impact of the proposed amendments to the administrative fees (Schedule 1)?

There is no plan to add new categories of or increase any administrative fees. As most of the transactions on mineral rights will be automated, the following administrative fees will be eliminated: duplicate licence, claim tags and reduced-area claim tags, application to record a claim or reduced-area claim, certificate of work, application for extension to do work and request to cancel the recording of a claim.

Will the new regulations impact the reporting on work requirements (Schedule 2)?

No substantive amendments are planned for the provisions dealing with report on work requirements. As for the definition of "work", environmental baseline studies will be removed from the list of accepted types of work which means that reports on these studies will not be accepted anymore. This change of policy aims at enhancing the collection of geological information in Nunavut. As transitional measure, reports on environmental baseline studies will continue to be accepted during the period of 2 years following the coming into force of the new regulations, if the studies have been performed no more than 4 years before the report is filed.

Will the map selection regulations changes increase any costs to do business?

It is expected that there will be a net cost savings to implementing online map selection. Most of the savings are attributed to removing the requirement to physically stake a mineral claim.

The proposed regulatory changes include adjusting the cost of work requirements to account for inflation and move from a per hectare calculation to a per unit calculation of the claim size. This means that selecting a unit-based claim online will require an upfront, refundable work deposit of $45 per unit. Unit size varies from 15 to 25 hectares with an average of 18 hectares. A full sized ground staked claim of 1,250 hectares presently will equal approximately 80 units, depending on where it is located in Nunavut. This unit claim would cost $3,600, which is fully refundable upon submission of your first complete report of work at the end of year two

The current work rate is $10 per hectare in the first two years and $5 per hectare for the remaining years. The following table breaks down the new unit based work charge for each year of the life of a claim into the equivalent per hectare rate for comparison.

Year Per unit work charge rate Per hectare work charge rate, assuming average of 18 hectares per unit
1 $45.00 $2.50
2 $90.00 $5.00
3 $90.00 $5.00
4 $95.00 $5.00
5 to 7 $135.00 $7.50
8 to 10 $180.00 $10.00
11 to 20 $225.00 $12.50
21 to 30 $270.00 $15.00

INAC is proposing through regulatory amendments to make submitting reports of work mandatory at least every eight years, even in case there is excess work on the claim. This concept supports the Crown's current policy to collect geoscience data to improve value in the land. As extra incentive for submitting more geoscience data, the amendments propose to eliminate the work report filing fee.

How can I prepare myself for the transition to online map selection in Nunavut?

The Canada Oil and Gas Land Regulations grid is the grid that you will select mineral claims from. This grid is available as layer on the Map Viewer and you may visualize your existing mineral tenure on the grid.

The approach we plan on taking is to have all the existing mineral claims converted to grid-based (unit) claims after a 90 day transitional period beginning on the coming into force of the new regulations. The spatial conversion will be based on the geographical coordinates that the Mining Recorder's Office currently stores for your claims. These have been digitized from the claim sketches that were submitted with your claims applications. All clients should verify the positioning of their claims using the Nunavut Map Viewer.

Should there be discrepancies with the positioning of the claim(s), it is imperative that the client contact the Mining Recorder's Office to remove the uncertainty as these coordinates will be used for the conversion of the existing claims to unit claims. When the Map Selection System goes live, the Map Viewer will show the official positioning of the claim(s). Note that under law, the only person who can determine the exact location of a mineral claim boundary on Crown lands in Nunavut is a Canada Lands Surveyor. If it is important to know the precise location of the boundary, please obtain a mineral claim survey.

What is going to happen to my mineral rights during the 90 day transitional period?

During the 90 day transitional period following the coming into force of the new regulations, a specific regime for existing mineral rights will be established based on a selection of provisions similar provisions of the current refulations (2014). Limited applications and requests related to claims presented in accordance with the current regulations will be accepted and processed by the Mining Recorder.

Prospecting will continue but it will not be possible to stake claims, to request the cancellation of claims or to transfer a claim or a lease. The Mining Recorder will record ground staked claims if staked no more than 60 days before the sending of the application. Work requirements and charges to be paid will be suspended and the period of validity of existing claims will be extended until the 90th day of the coming into force of the new regulations. Reports on work will not be accepted but claims will not be cancelled for lack of work or unpaid charges during that period.

Clients will continue to manage their leases following rules similar to provisions related to leases of the current (2014) regulations, except that applications to reduce a lease will not be accepted, unless they are submitted before the coming into force of the new regulations.

On the 91st day after the coming into force of the new regulations, the location of the converted claims will be displayed on the map through the Map Selection System. The computer system will be fully operational which means that you will be able to select new claims on map, make an application to record claims and manage your mineral rights using it. Reports on work will be accepted if the work reported on has been performed no more than 4 years before their submission.

How do I make sure I have an opportunity to comment on the regulatory amendments needed for online map selection?

Proposed regulations will be pre-published in Canada Gazette for 30 days. This will represent the formal consultation period for the regulatory proposed amendments. In the meantime you are invited to comment on the proposal by submitting your comments at the following address:

Dominique Quirion
Petroleum and Mineral Resources ManagementDirectorate
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
25 Eddy Street
10th Floor
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0H4
Email: Dominique.Quirion@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca
Tel: 819-360-4070

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