Exploration on Crown lands

Exploration for minerals on and acquisition of subsurface rights to Crown lands in the territory is governed by the Nunavut Mining Regulations and administered by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).

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Exploration for minerals on and acquisition of subsurface rights to Crown lands in the territory is governed by the Nunavut Mining Regulations and administered by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).

Mining process in Nunavut flowchart
Text alternative for: Mining process in Nunavut

Phase 1: Prospecting and exploration

  1. Use the Nunavut Map Selection (NMS) system to acquire a licence to prospect
  2. Select mineral claims using NMS
  3. Do your exploration activities require a land use permit or water license?
  4. No: Perform work not requiring these permits on your mineral claims
  5. Yes: Submit your project proposal to Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) for conformity determination, which will be completed within 45 days.
  6. Go to Land Use Planning flowchart
  7. Project conforms
  8. Apply to Crown-Indigenous Relations Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Lands Administration for land use permit and to Nunavut Water Board (NWB) for water licence related to exploration work
  9. Go to Water Licence flowchart
  10. Receive land use permit and water licence
  11. Perform work on your mineral claim
  12. Go to Phase 2: Advanced exploration and mine development

Phase 2: Advanced exploration and mine development

  1. Apply to CIRNAC Mining Recorder's Office (MRO) to convert your mineral claims with sufficient work leases
  2. Apply to CIRNAC Lands for your mine project's land use permit, and to Nunavut Water Board (NWB) for water licence related to mine development and operation
  3. Submit your mine project proposal to Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) to begin the impact assessment process
  4. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart
  5. Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) issues a Project Certificate
  6. Go to Phase 3: Production

Phase 3: Production

  1. Permitted and licensed activities at your mine site, including progressive reclamation activities, may begin
  2. CIRNAC field inspectors, IPGs, and other regulators make periodic site visits to monitor and enforce permit terms and conditions
  3. Draft abandonment and remediation plan is prepared prior to planned closure
  4. Production operations cease
  5. Go to Phase 4: Closure and reclamation

Phase 4: Closure and reclamation

  1. NWB approves your final abandonment and remediation plan
  2. Post-closure monitoring and enforcement inspections and financial security review take place
  3. Final closure inspection prior to issuance of letters of clearance for land use permit and water licence
  4. Final review of financial security and release of funds to you as the proponent
  5. Abandonment of mine site

Mineral tenure on Crown lands

'Mineral tenure' is a collective term for any mechanism that provides exclusive rights to explore a parcel of land, and in some cases provides exclusive rights to the minerals below the surface of the parcel. There are 3 types of mineral tenure for Crown lands: mineral claims, mineral leases, and prospecting permits.

Licence to prospect

Under the Nunavut Mining Regulations, you are required to obtain a licence to prospect if you want to explore for minerals on Crown lands, record a mineral claim, or apply for a lease of a recorded claim. You may apply for or renew a licence to prospect using the Nunavut Map Selection (NMS) system.

Any person at least 18 years of age can apply for a licence to prospect, as can any company registered under the territorial Business Corporations Act or the federal Canada Business Corporations Act. A licence costs $5 for an individual and $50 for a corporation. Licences to prospect are subject to annual renewal, at no charge, on or before March 31 of each year.

Mineral claims

Holding a mineral claim gives you the exclusive right to prospect on the land included in your claim, and to any minerals within the claim's boundaries. Holding a claim does not give you any surface rights. You may hold a mineral claim for up to 30 years, not including any periods of extension or suspension, provided that the required work on the claim has been completed.

You cannot remove, sell or dispose of minerals or ores in excess of a gross value of $100,000 from any individual claim which you hold without first taking the claim to lease. Removal of minerals or ores for assay or evaluation purposes, e.g. as a bulk sample or to evaluate ore processing methods, is permitted.

Selecting and recording a claim

Claims must be selected online, using the NMS system. In order to select claims through the system, you must first register for an account by contacting the Mining Recorder's Office. Any individual or company wishing to select claims must hold a licence to prospect in Nunavut.

Claims may be up to 100 units in size. The area of a unit depends on the latitude of the claim, and varies from 10 to 25 hectares, with an average of 18 hectares. The system will not permit you to select claims that would completely enclose units not included as part of that claim, such as a "donut-shaped" claim.

You must pay a deposit of $45 per unit when selecting a claim. This amount will be refunded to you once the Mining Recorder has issued a certificate of work for that claim, with a cost of work equal to or greater than the amount of the deposit. The date of receipt of a completed online application for a claim in NMS becomes the anniversary date of the claim.

The NMS system will flag a claim if units in its selected area contain lands which are encumbered, or not open for prospecting. These lands include cemeteries, parks, wildlife sanctuaries or subsurface Inuit-Owned Lands (IOL). You may select a unit that includes encumbered lands, but only the portion of the unit which is unencumbered will be recorded as part of the claim. The partial encumbrance of a unit does not reduce the work requirements for that unit.

If your selected claim includes IOL surface lands, you must obtain a surface access permit from the relevant Regional Inuit Association before accessing the ground. Disputes regarding surface access may be adjudicated by the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal.

Work requirements for mineral claims

Each year, you must incur a cost of work per unit that is at least equal to the requirement for the year of your claim(s).

Year Annual work requirement per unit
1 $45
2 – 4 $90
5 – 7 $135
8 – 10 $180
11 – 20 $225
21 – 30 $270

You must submit a report of work to the Mining Recorder's Office that documents the costs of work done, along with a Statement of Work, within 120 days of the anniversary date of your claim(s). For more on preparing and submitting reports of work, refer to the Guidelines for Assessment Reports and the Simplified Report: a guide for Nunavut prospectors.


If you were unable to complete the full amount of required work on your claim(s), you may apply, within 120 days of the anniversary date(s), to the Mining Recorder for a 1-year extension to complete the required work. As part of this application, you must pay a deposit equal to the annual work requirement, less the approved cost of any work you were able to complete. This amount may be reimbursed later if you complete the required amount of work. You are allowed to request up to 5 extensions for a given claim over its life.

Grouping claims

You may apply to group up to 400 contiguous claims using NMS. Work done on a claim within a group may be allocated to any other claim which is part of that group. A group of claims may not enclose a unit that is not part of any of the claims that makes up the group, or include any claims that are leased. A fee of $10 per group of recorded claims is also required.

Suspension of work requirements for a mineral claim

If you are not able to do work on your claim(s) because you are waiting for a public authority to give an authorization or to make a decision, without which the work cannot proceed, you may request a 1-year suspension of work requirements.

This application must be made to the Supervising Mining Recorder within 120 days of the claim's anniversary date in the year for which the suspension is requested, and must be accompanied by documents showing that you are waiting for the authorization or decision.

If your application meets the requirements, the Supervising Mining Recorder will record the suspension. This will extend the duration of your claim(s) by 1 year, exempt you from work requirements for that year, and exclude the suspended year from any calculations concerning the age of the claim, such as for the purposes of determining work requirements.

Transfer or cancellation of mineral claims

On payment of the required fees, you may transfer mineral claims you hold, or any interests therein, to another individual or company holding a valid licence to prospect. This transfer is subject to any and all liens or encumbrances registered on the claims at the time of the transfer.

You may cancel the recording of your claim(s) by submitting an application to the Mining Recorder. The cancellation will take effect on the day your application is received by the Mining Recorder, or on a later date if you have specified one.

If you fail to submit a report of work, apply for an extension, or apply for a mineral lease within the period required for each by the NMR, your claim will be automatically cancelled without further notice to you, unless the remedy, such as submitting a report of work, is made within 120 days of the end of the required period.

Your mineral claim(s) may also be cancelled by the Mining Recorder if:

  • you are found not authorized to hold the claim
  • you are found to have removed more than $100,000 of minerals from your claim for purposes other than to assess a mineral deposit within the claim
  • you have not applied for a lease of your recorded claim at least 1 year before the end of its duration

In these circumstances, the Mining Recorder will send a letter of notice including a summary of the reasons for cancellation to the claim holder. As the claim holder, you have 120 days following the date the notice was sent to show that the information which led to the cancellation is incorrect. If you are unable to do so, your claim will be cancelled.

Mineral leases

You must obtain a lease of a recorded claim, also called a 'mineral lease' or 'mining lease', to retain a claim past its 30th year. Holding a mineral lease allows you to prospect, develop, extract, or sell minerals from the land contained in the lease area. As with mineral claims, holding a lease does not give you any surface rights.

You may apply for a lease of a recorded claim at any time provided you have completed the required amount of work on the claim. Your lease application must be made at least 1 year before the end of the claim's duration. You must also pay the application fee and the first year's annual rent, and meet the following conditions:

  • the required plan of survey for the claim has been recorded by the Mining Recorder
  • one or more certificates of work have been issued to allocate a total cost of work of at least $1,260 per claim unit. This amount can include up to $250 per unit from the sum of:
    • surveys approved by the Surveyor General
    • environmental baseline studies
    • the construction of roads, airstrips, and/or docks giving access to the claim
  • the title of the claim is not in dispute

Mineral leases are issued for a 21-year term and may be renewed for additional 21-year terms as long as all required rents are paid. The annual rent for a mineral lease issued before November 1, 2020 is $2.50 per hectare during the first term and $5 per hectare during each renewed term before that date. The annual rent for a lease issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2020 is $10 per hectare.

Once a lease for your claim has been issued, you are no longer required to report on any work done on it.

Prospecting permits

As of January 2021, at the coming into force of the amended Nunavut Mining Regulations (NMR), new prospecting permits are no longer being issued. Existing permits will continue to be regulated under transitional provisions in the NMR.

All existing prospecting permits are subject to any rights previously acquired, or applied for, by any person in the area to which the permit applies. If you have an active prospecting permit, you may transfer it to another individual or company with a valid licence to prospect. If your prospecting permit is cancelled for any reason neither you nor anyone related to you, as defined by the NMR, may apply to record a claim covering any part of the area of the cancelled permit for a period of 1 year.

For more information on mineral tenure on Crown land, or on assessment work on that tenure, contact:

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Nunavut Regional Office

Lands Directorate

Mineral Resources

Manager, Mineral Resources
Building 918 P.O. Box 100
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-4290
Fax: 867-975-4286
Email: minerauxnu-mineralsnu@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

District Geologist
Building 918 P.O. Box 100
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-4292
Fax: 867-975-4286
Email: minerauxnu-mineralsnu@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Senior Mining Recorder
Building 918
PO Box 100
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-4281
Fax: 867-975-4286
Email: registraireminierscn-miningrecordersnms@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Land use planning

Land use planning flowchart
Text alternative for: Land use planning flowchart
  1. Is your planned activity a 'project' as defined by the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act?
    1. No: Project goes through any other applicable regulatory process (e.g. CIRNAC land use permit)
  2. Is your planned activity a 'project' as defined by the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act?
    1. Yes: Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    2. No: Is your project exempt from NIRB screening?
    3. No: Project is screened by NIRB
    4. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart
  3. Yes: Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    1. Yes: Has NPC determined that your project is in conformity with the existing LUP?
    2. No: Has NPC approved a minor variance from the LUP for your project?
    3. No: Have you received an exemption form the terms of the existing LUP from the Minister?
    4. No: You must revise and resubmit your project proposal to NPC
  4. Is your planned activity a 'project' as defined by the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act?
    1. Yes: Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    2. No: Is your project exempt from NIRB screening?
    3. Yes: Are there cumulative impact concerns with your project?
    4. No: Project goes through any other applicable regulatory process (e.g. CIRNAC land use permit)
  5. Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    1. No: Is your project exempt from NIRB screening?
    2. Yes: Are there cumulative impact concerns with your project?
    3. Yes: Project is screened by NIRB
    4. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart
  6. Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    1. Yes: Has NPC determined that your project is in conformity with the existing LUP?
    2. Yes: Project is screened by NIRB
    3. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart
  7. Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    1. Yes: Has NPC determined that your project is in conformity with the existing LUP?
    2. No: Has NPC approved a minor variance from the LUP for your project?
    3. Yes: Project is screened by NIRB
    4. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart
  8. Is there an applicable existing Land Use Plan (LUP) for your project's location?
    1. Yes: Has NPC determined that your project is in conformity with the existing LUP?
    2. No: Has NPC approved a minor variance from the LUP for your project?
    3. No: Have you received an exemption form the terms of the existing LUP from the Minister?
    4. Yes: Project is screened by NIRB
    5. Go to Impact Assessment flowchart

Requirements for land use planning in Nunavut are derived from the Nunavut Agreement and the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA). The Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) is responsible for developing land use plans for the Nunavut Settlement Area and is the "single window" entry to the regulatory system in Nunavut. As the proponent of a project to be carried out, you must submit a project proposal to NPC to trigger the start of the regulatory process.

Broadly speaking, land use plans detail which activities can occur, and where and under what conditions they can take place. There are 2 land use plans currently in effect in Nunavut: the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan and the Keewatin Regional Land Use Plan. NPC is responsible for drafting a Nunavut-wide land use plan that, once approved, will replace these regional plans.

Submitting a project proposal

If an activity meets the definition of a project under NuPPAA, you as the proponent of that project must submit a proposal to NPC. The definition of 'project' in NuPPAA is broad, and there are certain activities that do not require review by NPC prior to seeking regulatory approval and/or conducting the activity.

Your proposal must contain a detailed project description that will allow NPC to determine if the project is in conformity with any applicable land use plan(s), and whether the project is exempt from screening by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB).

Determining conformity with land use plan

NPC has 45 days to complete its conformity review of your project. If NPC requests during its review that you provide additional information, the 45-day decision period is paused until you have submitted that information.

You may not begin work on a project until NPC has completed its conformity review, and you must also ensure any other necessary authorizations are in place before beginning work. Regulatory authorities can only issue permits, licences or authorizations for projects after NPC has completed its review.

If all your project's components meet the terms and conditions of the applicable land use plan, and if its activities are not explicitly prohibited, your project will be found to conform. If your project is determined to be out of conformity, it may still proceed to NIRB or to other parties in the regulatory process if NPC grants a minor variance for your project, or if you obtain a Ministerial exemption from the conformity requirements.

NPC may grant a minor variance within 20 days of determining non-conformity, if the applicable land use plan authorizes minor variances, and if the project meets the conditions for such a variance.

If your project is found not to conform, and NPC refuses to grant a minor variance, or if the existing land use plan does not allow for minor variances, you have 60 days after NPC's non-conformity decision to request an exemption from the responsible federal or territorial Minister. The responsible Minister(s) must either grant or refuse an exemption within 120 days. Ministerial exemptions will typically only be granted in extenuating circumstances.

Exemption from screening by NIRB

If NPC has determined that your project is in conformity with an applicable land use plan, or if there is no applicable land use plan, it must then assess whether the project is exempt from screening by NIRB.

For your project to be exempt from NIRB screening, NPC must determine that each work or activity in the project belongs to the classes of exempt works or activities set out in Items 1 to 6 of Schedule 12-1 of the Nunavut Agreement, or in Schedule 3 of NuPPAA. Item 7 of Schedule 12-1 includes other categories of activities and projects that are agreed upon as exempt by NIRB and the responsible Minister(s).

A description of the class of works or activities exempted by any such agreement is listed in Schedule 3 of the act. NPC may request the opinion of NIRB as to whether a particular project is exempt from screening.

NPC must notify NIRB, you as the proponent, and any regulatory authority identified by you in the project proposal, of its decision regarding exemption.

Project not exempt

NPC must send your project proposal to NIRB for screening if it is not exempt from that process.

Cumulative effects concerns

If NPC has concerns regarding the cumulative ecosystemic and/or socioeconomic impacts that could result from your proposed project, your proposal may be sent to NIRB for review even if it would normally be exempt from that process.

NPC will evaluate the impacts of your project in combination with those of any other projects' existing or anticipated impacts in the proposed project area. If cumulative effects concerns are warranted, NPC must then send your project proposal to NIRB for screening, and must notify you, NIRB, and any regulatory authority identified by you of that decision.

No cumulative effects concerns

If a project is exempt from screening, and no cumulative impact concerns have been raised, NPC will notify you and any regulatory authority identified by you of its decision that its assessment has been completed and that you may carry out the project.

In carrying out your project, you must abide by any requirement(s) set out in any applicable land use plan, and obtain any licence(s), permit(s) or other authorization(s) required by federal or territorial laws and regulations.

Surface tenure on Crown lands

Once you have acquired mineral tenure in Nunavut, you may also need to obtain surface tenure before conducting exploration work. The Territorial Land Use Regulations (TLUR), administered by CIRNAC, allow the responsible Minister, through delegation, to authorize land use on Crown land.

Land use permits

There are 2 classes of land use permit established under the Territorial Land Use Regulations: Class A and Class B. The criteria for each class of permit are described in Sections 8 and 9 of the regulations, and summarized below:

Class A permits (Section 8) are required for:

  1. use of more than 150 kilograms of explosives in any 30-day period
  2. use of any vehicle that exceeds 10 tonnes net vehicle weight
  3. use of any power driven machinery for drilling purposes whose operating weight exceeds 2.5 tonnes
  4. the establishment of any campsite to be used for more than 400 man-days.
  5. the establishment of any petroleum fuel storage facility exceeding 80,000 litres capacity or single container exceeding 4,000 litres capacity
  6. the use of any self-propelled power driven machine for moving earth or clearing land of vegetation
  7. the use of any stationary power driven machine for hydraulic prospecting, moving earth or clearing land, other than a power saw
  8. the levelling, grading, clearing, cutting or snow-ploughing of any line, trail or right-of-way exceeding 1.5 metres in width and exceeding 4 hectares in area.

Class B permits (Section 9) are required for:

  1. the use of more than 50 kilograms but less than 150 kilograms of explosives in any 30-day period
  2. the use of any vehicle that is more than 5 tonnes but less than 10 tonnes net vehicle weight, or of any weight that exerts ground pressure in excess of 35 kilopascals.
  3. the use of any power driven machinery for drilling purposes whose operating weight is more than 500 kilograms but less than 2.5 tonnes
  4. the establishment of any campsite to be used by more than 2 people for more than 100 but less than 400 man-days
  5. the establishment of any petroleum fuel storage facility with more than 4,000 litres but less than 80,000 litres capacity, or a single container with more than 2,000 litres but less than 4,000 litres capacity
  6. the levelling, grading, clearing, cutting or snow-ploughing of any line, trail or right-of-way exceeding 1.5 metres in width but not exceeding 4 hectares in area

Note: man-day as used in the regulations is defined to mean the use of a camp by 1 person for one 24-hour day. It is calculated as the number of people in a camp multiplied by the duration of their stay, i.e. 12 people occupying a camp for 10 days = 120 man-days.

Land use permit applications

Before you can apply to CIRNAC for a land use permit to conduct mineral exploration, you must first submit your project proposal to the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC). CIRNAC cannot accept your application until it has received a conformity determination by NPC. For more information on this process, refer to the land use planning section.

Applications for Class A permits are screened by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), although the application acceptance and issuance process remains with CIRNAC at the Nunavut Regional Office. Your application will take between 10 and 42 days to be processed by CIRNAC staff.

Under the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act (NuPPAA), NIRB has 45 days to complete its screening, with the option to request ministerial approval for an extension of up to 1 year from the date your application was received. CIRNAC is not permitted to issue a land use permit until a screening decision has been made by NIRB.

Class B permit applications are typically exempt from NIRB screening. However, during its conformity review, NPC may determine that a NIRB screening of the application is required if it has concerns regarding potential cumulative environmental or socioeconomic effects, or if there is significant public concern about the project.

CIRNAC's Land Advisory Committee (LAC), comprised of members from federal, territorial, and municipal government departments and Inuit organizations, is responsible for screening Class B applications. The processing time for a Class B land use permit by the committee is 30 days.

CIRNAC also encourages you as the permit applicant to consult with community councils, hunter and trapper organizations, the relevant Regional Inuit Association, and members of the public who are located in the general area(s) of your proposed activities prior to the submission of applications. This ensures that communities are informed of activities planned to be conducted in their traditional use areas.

Feedback received during these consultations may assist you in making modifications to your project plans. It is helpful, although not required under the TLUR, to include a summary of feedback received from these types of consultation with your land use permit application.

To apply for a land use permit to conduct mineral exploration activities, you must have a licence to prospect and hold either a prospecting permit or a mineral claim or lease, or be contracted to carry out a land use activity by the mineral tenure holder. Your application form (PDF Version, 299,90 KB, 3 pages) requires your original signature and must be accompanied by the application fee and land use fee. You must complete all sections of the application form relevant to your proposed activity; incomplete applications may lead to delays in issuing a land use permit, or may result in the refusal of your application.

Section 22(2) of the TLUR outlines the information you must provide when applying for a land use permit:

  • a summary of the land use operation
  • a complete description of the land use operation, including its purpose, location, planned schedule and areas planned for use
  • the location in latitude and longitude of the proposed land use operation(s), including National Topographic System (NTS) map sheet number(s)
  • a map of suitable scale, preferably 1:50,000 or 1:250,000, that shows the extent of lands proposed for use, and any existing or proposed features such as trails, cleared areas or structures, which may be used during or have their use affected by the land use operation


Land use fees are payable at the time of your permit application, based on the estimated number of hectares required for your operation. The estimate of hectares used should include any existing lines, cleared areas, camp site(s), access routes and drill sites.. Any adjustment to or reimbursement of fees based on the actual hectares used will be made when you submit your final plan and its verification by inspection is completed. The fees are as follows:

Permit application fee $150.00
Land use fees for proposed use up to 2 hectares: $50.00
Land use fees for proposed use over 2 hectares: $50.00, plus $50.00/ha for each hectare or
portion of a hectare >2 ha.

Land use permit terms and conditions

A CIRNAC Resource Management Officer, also referred to as an inspector, reviews permit applications and provides comments and recommendations to CIRNAC's land use engineer. In reviewing the application, the inspector may suggest an alternate manner of land use to minimize or control any disturbance the proposed land use operation may cause. The inspector may also provide terms and conditions to be included with the permit when it is issued.

The land use engineer may consider any conditions provided with NIRB's screening decision and any recommendations from the inspector in determining the terms and conditions necessary for a Class A permit to be issued.

For Class B permits, the comments received from the LAC and the inspector are compiled and considered by the land use engineer in determining the terms and conditions necessary for a land use permit to be issued.

The terms and conditions in your land use permit will specify the location and total area of the land that can be used, and standards for the operation including site abandonment and reclamation. Your permit may also specify terms and conditions related to the management, transportation, and disposal of waste at your operation. On a case by case basis, and on written request from you as the permit holder, these terms and conditions may be modified by the land use engineer.

Your land use permit can be suspended at any time by an inspector if you are not in compliance with its terms and conditions, or if you fail to correct any fault after being notified of it by the inspector or the land use engineer.

The land use engineer may cancel a suspended permit if you have made no attempt to correct a fault. However, as the permit holder or applicant, you may appeal the cancellation to the responsible Minister within 30 days after a decision, direction, or order regarding cancellation has been made by the land use engineer.

No permit holder is allowed to conduct a land use operation within 30 metres of a known or suspected archaeological site or burial ground, or to excavate below the normal high water mark when operating within 100 metres of a stream, unless specifically authorized to do so in the land use permit or in writing by an inspector.

Land use permits are issued for a maximum term of 5 years. Written requests for a one-time extension of up to 2 years, for the purpose of completing the land use operation, are subject to review and approval by the land use engineer.

For more information on surface use of Crown land, or on regulatory inspections of exploration or mining projects, contact:

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Nunavut Regional Office

Lands Directorate

Qimugjuk Building 969
PO Box 2200
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-4500
Toll free: 1-800-567-9604
Fax: 867-975-4560

Lands Administration

Manager, Lands Administration
Phone: 867-975-4280
Fax: 867-975-4286
Email: landsmining@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Lands Administration Specialist
Phone: 867-975-4283
Fax: 867-975-4286
Email: landsmining@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Field Operations

Manager, Field Operations
Phone: 867-975-4553
Fax: 867-979-6445

Resource Management Officer, Baffin Region
Phone: 867-975-4548
Fax: 867-979-6445

Resource Management Officer, Kivalliq Region
Box 268
Rankin Inlet, NU X0C 0G0
Phone: 867-645-2840
Fax: 867-645-2592

Resource Management Officer, Kitikmeot Region
Box 278
Kugluktuk, NU X0B 0E0
Phone: 867-982-4306
Fax: 867-982-4307

Final plan

Your final plan of land use operations, drawn to scale, must be filed on either the date of expiry of the land use permit, or within 60 days of the completion of your land use operation, whichever comes first. This plan will be the basis for determining the total area of land used and the corresponding land use fee.

You will be issued a letter of clearance once a final inspection is conducted by the inspector and the land use engineer is satisfied that all the terms and conditions as specified on the permit have been met. The land use engineer will determine the total land use fee which is payable by or refundable to you, within 30 days of the issuance of the letter of clearance.

Site restoration

As the permit holder, you must restore the land use permit area, as nearly as possible, to the condition before the operation began, including:

  • levelling and compaction of excavation areas, except for rock trenching
  • restoration of channels and stream beds to their original alignment and cross section.
  • removal, burial, or incineration of garbage, waste, and debris, and disposal of all sanitary sewage in accordance with public health ordinances of the Government of Nunavut
  • removal of all buildings, machinery, equipment, materials and fuel drums

You may request written authorization from CIRNAC's land use engineer to store equipment on site for future use. Storage shall be in a manner, at a location and for a duration approved by the land use engineer.

Mineral development project-related land use operations

The information in this section summarizes specific components of mineral exploration and development projects and the permits that may be required. Licences and permits applicable to field camps for mineral exploration projects in Nunavut are required by various acts and regulations, depending on the scale of the project in question. A camp supporting a 10-person reconnaissance-scale prospecting and mapping program will have different regulatory requirements than a camp supporting an exploration program including 5 diamond drills and multiple airborne geophysical surveys.

Other activities not described here may also require land use permits. If the activity you are planning to conduct is not discussed below, please contact the federal department responsible for the planned activity.

Permits for field camps

Permits for constructing and operating your field camp will depend on the types of activity on your project. Permits are based on criteria such as quantity of fuel to be stored, types of equipment to be used, number of persons in camp, and others; see the section on surface tenure for more details.

In accordance with the Mine Health and Safety Regulations, any use of mechanical equipment and any supervision of work in your field camp requires that a person on site holds, at minimum, a valid supervisor's certificate issued by the Chief Inspector of the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission of NWT & Nunavut.

A water licence issued by the Nunavut Water Board, under the authority of the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, is required for use of water and water-related waste deposit in your field camp.

Site access and preparation

Under the TLUR, you may not clear any new road, trail or right-of-way wider than 10 metres for site access, or clear a new trail, road, or right-of-way where one already exists, unless specifically authorized to do so in your land use permit. All debris related to clearing access routes on land or in water must be removed. If the inspector believes serious erosion may result from clearing access routes, you must adopt any measures they require to prevent that erosion.

Depending on the amount of water usage for your project as a whole, either an authorization or a water licence from the Nunavut Water Board is required for field camp water usage.

Diamond drilling permits and reporting requirements

Depending on your planned drilling activity, you must obtain either a Class A or Class B land use permit for diamond drill programs. Either an authorization or a water licence from the Nunavut Water Board is required for water usage related to diamond drilling. Properly stored drill core may be left on site without permits or prior approval of the land use engineer, and is consistent with best practices for mineral exploration.

Land leases and land use permits

Building access trails or other mine-related facilities requires either a land use permit or a surface lease. Entering occupied Crown lands or accessing Inuit-Owned land or private holdings requires consent from the land owner, or an order from an arbitrator if there is an access dispute.

Surface leases issued under the Territorial Lands Regulations (TLR) are required for long-term land uses such as airstrips and buildings. These leases give exclusive rights to surface access and usage, and usually have terms and conditions setting standards for operations, but do not confer any mineral rights to the lease holder. Assessment and approval are also required by other regulatory bodies before a surface lease and land use permit are issued by CIRNAC.

You must pay a fee for each surface lease application and lease renewal. Surface leases are issued for a term of not more than 30 years, and may be renewed on application for another term of up to 30 years. The annual rent payable cannot be less than 10 percent of the appraised value of the land, and must be at least $150 per annum. All surface leases must be approved by CIRNAC's Director of Lands in order to be binding on the Crown.

A mineral lease issued under the Nunavut Mining Regulations (NMR) is required for underground and open pit production operations. A mineral lease provides the right to extract minerals but does not confer any right of access to or use of the surface land.

Land use permits are issued under the TLUR for a term of 5 years, with the possibility of a one-time two-year extension, for specific activities such as developing a quarry, conducting a drilling program, building an access trail, or establishing a camp. These permits include terms and conditions regarding construction and/or operation of the permitted activity, and must be obtained before operations begin. Unlike surface leases, land use permits do not confer exclusive use of the surface land.

There are no specific licences or permits required for conducting regional geophysical or geochemical surveys on Crown lands. However, a licence to prospect is required if the cost of your survey is to be submitted as a cost of work under the NMR. If you will be conducting an airborne geophysical survey, you should ensure that the survey will not have an adverse impact on animal migration or a community's hunting or land use activities.

Pits and quarries

The development of infrastructure at a mine site usually requires construction materials such as such as sand or gravel. The extraction and use of quarried or granular materials on Crown lands requires either a land use permit or a surface lease, and is subject to the payment of royalties. All applications for pits or quarries must be accompanied by the appropriate fee payment.

Industrial rocks and minerals used in construction, including gravel, sand, limestone, and granite, are specifically excluded from the Nunavut Mining Regulations and are not included with the mineral rights granted on acquiring a mineral claim. Extraction of these materials on Crown lands is governed by the Territorial Quarrying Regulations (TQR) of the Territorial Lands Act (TLA).

Under the Nunavut Agreement, the Designated Inuit Organization (DIO) is to be notified of any discovery of carving stone on Crown lands. Quarrying rights for carving stone deposits identified on Crown lands may only be granted to the regional DIO. The DIO has the right to obtain an exclusive quarry lease to significant deposits of carving stone, while respecting any third party rights which may apply to an area of land, or to obtain title to the land containing the carving stone in exchange for other Inuit Owned Land (IOL).

Quarrying on Commissioner's or municipal lands is managed through the Commissioner's Land Regulations of the Commissioner's Land Act, administered by the territorial Department of Economic Development and Transportation. Approval from a municipality is required if quarry materials are to be extracted from within its boundaries. On Crown lands, approval from the responsible Institutions of Public Government, a land use permit issued under the TLUR, and a quarry permit issued under the TQR are required to access and quarry these materials. Quarry materials on IOL are granted to the DIO for each settlement region and are administered by the regional Inuit associations.

Labour legislation and occupational health and safety in Nunavut

Labour legislation

Nunavut's Labour Standards Act (LSANU) sets out the rights and responsibilities of non-governmental employers and employees. Under the authority of this act, an inspector and a labour standards officer may be appointed to investigate complaints, and a labour standards board may be established to handle any appeals on decisions or orders issued by the labour standards officer. All decisions of the labour standards board are considered final.

Hours of work

The standard hours of work for an employee in Nunavut are 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. As an employer, you may require or permit your employees to work more than the standard hours, to a maximum of 10 hours in a day and 60 hours in a week, without needing authorization from a labour standards officer.

Most exploration work is seasonal, and both exploration and mine site employees are generally expected to work seven 12-hour days per week when on site. The labour standards officer may issue you, as the employer, a written permit which authorizes your employees to work in excess of the maximums outlined above. As the employer, you may request such a permit if:

  • the work is in an industrial establishment and/or is seasonal or intermittent
  • there are exceptional circumstances to justify the working of additional hours

This permit may specify either:

  • the total number of additional hours that may be worked in excess of 10 hours in a day and 60 hours in a week
  • the additional hours that may be worked in any day and in any week during the period of the permit

If the nature of your employees' position(s) results in their hours being irregularly distributed throughout a work week, the labour standards officer may issue you as the employer a written permit which authorizes the standard and maximum hours of work in a day and in a week to be averaged over a period of one or more weeks.

In addition, each permit issued to you by the labour standards officer shall specify the threshold for hours of work that are considered to be overtime. Pay for overtime work shall be not less than 1.5 times the regular rate of pay.

More information on hours of work may be found in Sections 4 to 11 of LSANU.

Minimum wages

The minimum wage for Nunavut is the greater of $16 per hour and the prescribed rate. If your employees are paid on a basis other than time, the Labour Standards Board may determine a minimum wage equivalent to that paid on the basis of time. The minimum wage is reviewed annually by the responsible territorial Minister. More information on minimum wages may be found in Sections 12 to 14 of LSANU.

Vacation and holidays

Employees in Nunavut are entitled to 4% of their wages in vacation pay, equivalent to 2 weeks' vacation, for their first five years of employment. For more than 5 years' total employment with 1 employer, they are entitled to 6% of wages as vacation pay, equivalent to 3 weeks' vacation. Any unused vacation pay is paid out to the employee when their employment ceases.

If they have worked their regular shifts before and after a designated holiday, employees in Nunavut are entitled to be paid for that holiday at their usual rate. If an employee is required to work on a designated holiday, they are entitled to time in lieu on a day convenient to both you as the employer and to the employee, or to pay at 1.5 times their usual wages for the time worked on the holiday.

Pregnancy and parental leave

Employees in Nunavut are entitled to pregnancy leave without pay, if they have been employed for the prescribed amount of time and provide a minimum of 4 weeks notice of their planned leave.

As the employer, you may request that the employee provide a medical certificate confirming pregnancy and estimating a due date. Pregnancy leave may begin up to 17 weeks prior to the estimated due date, and you may also request that the employee begin their leave if they are unable to fulfil their duties due to pregnancy.

Parental leave of up to 37 weeks, also without pay, is available to Nunavut employees, provided they have been employed for the prescribed amount of time, and will be remaining at home to provide child care during the leave period. Parental leave also applies to adoptions.

The maximum combined pregnancy and parental leave period available to employees is 52 weeks. Employees are entitled to return to work prior to the end of their leave period, with your consent as the employer. You must allow your employee to return to either their position held before pregnancy or parental leave, or to a position comparable in wages, benefits, and seniority to that held prior to their leave, including any increments to pay or benefits to which they were entitled while on leave.

You may not change or terminate the employment of an employee requesting pregnancy or parental leave. You will be required to demonstrate that any changes made to an employee's conditions of employment due to pregnancy or parental leave do not contravene sections 36-38 of the LSANU.

Family abuse leave

Under the LSANU, employees in Nunavut are entitled to several types of leave related to family abuse situations, of between 1 and 15 weeks in length. This leave may be unpaid or paid depending on how long the employee has been employed by you as the employer.

The employee may request this leave to obtain medical attention, victims' services, legal assistance, to relocate, or for other purposes as set out in the regulations. The employee may also request this leave to assist a relative who is experiencing family abuse with the activities listed above.

As the employer, you may request reasonable verification of an abuse situation, but you shall not dismiss, demote, or discipline an employee for taking this type of leave.

Compassionate care leave

If your employee requires a leave of absence for care and support of a family member, and provides proof from a medical practitioner of that family member's serious medical condition and significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks, you must grant them leave of up to 8 weeks. As with pregnancy or parental leave, you may not dismiss, demote, or discipline any employee who applies for this leave.

Termination of employment

As an employer operating in Nunavut, you are expected to adhere to the requirements of the LSANU when laying off or terminating employees. These requirements include standards for minimum notice periods, termination pay, constructive termination, changes to employees' wages, and temporary or permanent layoffs. The act also sets out requirements for notifying the labour standards officer of layoffs or terminations in excess of 25 employees at one time.

Human rights complaints

The territorial Human Rights Act applies to all cases involving discrimination or unfair labour practices. The Human Rights Tribunal, appointed under this act, investigates complaints and may assist parties to settle through negotiations, or may issue notices and hold hearings in the course of settling a dispute. Decisions of the Tribunal may be appealed on legal grounds only.

Further questions about labour standards can be directed to the Labour Standards Board of the Government of Nunavut.

Nunavut Labour Standards Board
P.O. Box 1269
1106 Ikaluktuutiak Drive
Iqaluit, NU, X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-6159
Fax: 867-975-6367
Email: nlsb@gov.nu.ca

Occupational health and safety

Medical care and sanitation

The territorial Camps Health Services Act (CHSA) sets standards for medical and surgical care in exploration or mining camps. It sets out the type and amount of medicines, first aid equipment, and other supplies which are required for these sites. The act also sets medical care standards for field camps which house more than 10 employees, including the required number of hospital beds and the travel distance to suitable facilities.

The territorial Camp Sanitation Regulations establish minimum sanitation standards for exploration or mining camp facilities. This legislation applies to kitchen facilities and sleeping and dining quarters, and includes standards for water supplies, ventilation, food preparation, drainage, heating and lighting. It also provides for inspection of these facilities by environmental health officers, who have the authority under the CHSA to order a facility closed if the requirements are not met.

Issuers of land use permits or surface leases for activities on Crown lands may include health and sanitation standards and other requirements established in territorial legislation into the terms and conditions.

Spill reporting procedures

Unless exempted by the Chief Environmental Protection Officer, the territorial Spill Contingency Planning and Reporting Regulations require that you, as the project operator, file a spill contingency plan when the capacity of potential contaminants stored at your site, either above or below ground, exceeds regulatory limits.

Your contingency plan must include a description of the storage facility, the type and quantity of potential contaminants normally stored, and the steps to be taken, including clean-up procedures, in the event of a spill. Under the regulations, the contingency plan must be filed and approved before any storage facilities can be used.

Under the terms of the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, in the event of a leakage or a spill, you must file a spill report. The governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories jointly operate a 24-hour spill report line at +1 (867) 920-8130. Collect calls are accepted, and the report is provided to the CIRNAC inspector on call. Spill reports can also be filed via email, at spills@gov.nu.ca. Your spill report must identify the person in charge, include the type and quantity of material spilled, and list any actions already taken to contain, recover and clean up the site. Marine spills must be reported by telephone to the Canadian Coast Guard at +1 (800) 265-0237.

Environmental regulations and the terms and conditions of your project's various licences and permits may require the reporting of any spills to regulators or other organizations, in addition to the spill report line. It is your responsibility as the project operator to keep track of which parties require notification in the event of a spill, and to notify them as necessary.

Spill contingency plans are filed with the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) as part of the documentation for exploration and mine projects, and can be viewed on the NIRB public registry website.

Transportation of dangerous goods

Explosives and fuels are considered dangerous goods under both the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 (TDGA) and its Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR), and the territorial Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1990 and its Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, 1991. The transportation and disposal of toxic waste is regulated by the federal Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

The safety inspectors of the territorial Department of Community and Government Services inspect dangerous goods shipments transported by vehicles via road. Transport Canada (TC) inspectors are responsible for facilities which handle, offer for transport, or transport dangerous goods via road, air, marine and rail. In the event of an emergency involving dangerous goods, contact the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC) at 1-888-CAN-UTEC (226-8832), +1-613-996-6666, or *666 on a cellular phone.

Regardless of the method of transportation, moving certain dangerous goods above the quantities specified in the TDGR requires that you, as the project operator, prepare an emergency response assistance plan (ERAP) which must be approved by TC. This plan must describe procedures to be undertaken in the event of a release or an anticipated release of certain higher-risk dangerous goods while they are in transport. An anticipated release is an incident or accident in which the containment method for the dangerous good in question is compromised but no spill has occurred.

Each ERAP is specific to the type of dangerous good, the mode of transport, the type of container or packaging used to hold the dangerous good, and the geographical area in which the dangerous good will be transported. Your ERAP should list any specialized personnel and equipment needed for responding to an incident. Once an ERAP is approved by TC it can be used to assist emergency responders.

If a release of dangerous goods occurs, either you as the owner, or as the person in charge who is liable for any loss or damages to the public or the environment, must report the incident to a territorial inspector and to Transport Canada, and immediately execute your ERAP. The responsible territorial Minister may issue a directive to cease an activity , or to perform an activity related to the dangerous goods release in a particular manner, such as a specific cleanup method. You as the project owner, or as the person representing the organization receiving the directive, have 60 days to appeal any directive to the Supreme Court of Nunavut.

Under the federal TDGA and TDGR, further reporting may be required in certain circumstances, such as if the release leads to an evacuation of people. Any release of a toxic substance must be reported to an inspector designated under CEPA. In Nunavut reporting to the 24-hour spill line or to the CIRNAC inspector on call fulfills this requirement.

For further information about the transportation of dangerous goods, contact:

Transport Canada

Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regional Offices
Prairie & Northern Region
Toll free: 1-888-463-0521

Uranium and thorium

The Nunavut Mining Regulations do not require specific permits or licences to mine uranium or thorium ores contained within a mineral lease. However, uranium mining activities are regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). Given the public interest in and concern about uranium mining, rigorous reviews under the federal Impact Assessment Act or under Article 12, Part 5 of the Nunavut Agreement will likely be required to determine potential human and environmental impacts of a project involving uranium or thorium, in addition to the mandatory public consultations and reviews by Institutions of Public Government and federal regulators. Any land use permits, surface leases or water licences for your project may be granted after those reviews have taken place.

The CNSC is authorized under the NSCA to regulate the development, production and use of nuclear energy, and the production, possession, and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment, and prescribed information in Canada. CNSC is mandated to:

  • protect the health, safety, and security of Canadians and the environment
  • to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public

In accordance with the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations, the CNSC issues, renews, amends, suspends, and replaces licences for all stages of uranium mining beyond prospecting and surface exploration. Further information on mining-related licences issued by the CNSC and the cost recovery mechanism the CNSC uses are provided in the Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations (UMMR) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Regulations, respectively.

Under the UMMR, your application for operating a uranium mine must include a detailed description of the surrounding topographical area, the physical components of the mine, the mill and other buildings. You must also include the ways in which your proposed plans, operations, schedules, activities, emergency rescue procedures and waste management programs comply with the provisions in the Radiation Protection Regulations and the Nuclear Security Regulations.

Several licences are required for any proposed uranium operation, including a licence to prepare a site for and construct a uranium mine, a licence to operate and/or decommission that mine, and a licence for the eventual final abandonment of your uranium mining operation. These licences will also include occupational health and safety requirements related to tracking and recording employees' radiation doses acquired during exploration, mining and milling processes.

The federal Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations govern the following:

  • design, production, use, and maintenance of packaging for nuclear substances
  • preparation and handling of that packaging
  • type of storage during transport
  • unloading of substances at the final destination.

The Nuclear Energy Act provides authority for the collection of royalties by the federal government from producing uranium mines. The Non-Resident Ownership Policy in the Uranium Mining Sector requires a minimum of 51% Canadian ownership in uranium mining properties at the time of first commercial production, unless an exemption is granted.

As there is significant public concern with respect to radioactive material, you as the proponent are advised to consult with all regulatory agencies and Institutions of Public Government before commencing mineral exploration or development activities related to uranium and related substances.

For further information on requirements related to uranium exploration and mining, contact:

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Head, Uranium Mines Section
101 - 22nd Street East, Suite 307
Saskatoon, SK K7K 0E1
Phone: 306-975-6376
Fax: 306-975-6387

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