Advanced Exploration

Information about the legislation and regulations related to advanced mining exploration.

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

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

At this stage in the mineral resource development process, you have received positive exploration results, and your project activities shift towards delineation of a mineral deposit and determination of whether production is feasible.

Exploration and mining projects in Nunavut have specific challenges which may not be experienced at projects elsewhere in Canada. These include, but are not limited to:

You are encouraged to conduct your own public consultations before submitting applications to Institutions of Public Government and other authorities for project approvals, permits, or licences. Early consultation with stakeholders allows you to gain an understanding of regional and local interests and concerns prior to negotiation of a Framework Agreement and an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement. It will also provide potentially affected communities access to information about your project and its anticipated short-term and long-term impacts and benefits.

The primary objective of advanced exploration and development is to identify the size, grade and physical and/or metallurgical characteristics of a mineral deposit, and to assess the economic and technical feasibility of developing the mineral deposit into a producing mine. Advanced exploration activities may include surface drilling and trenching, bulk sampling, or driving shafts, adits, and declines for underground exploration.

Further information on these activities can be found in the mine development and production section.

Permits required for advanced exploration

Under the Nunavut Mining Regulations, you require a licence to prospect in order to hold and to submit work on mineral claims. You cannot remove ores in excess of a gross value of $100,000 from any individual mineral claim(s) unless a mineral lease has been applied for and granted by the Minister of Northern Affairs. Further information about applying for a lease of a recorded mineral claim can be found in the mineral tenure section.

Under the Territorial Land Use Regulations, you require a land use permit for any operations which may substantially disturb the land surface, including use of heavy equipment, explosives, or fuel storage greater than 4,000 litres.

In order to use water from or deposit waste into natural water bodies, or to dispose of waste on land in a manner which may affect natural water bodies, for example via runoff, you require a water licence issued by the Nunavut Water Board under the authority of the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act.

Before applying for a land use permit or water licence for advanced exploration activities, you will need to obtain a conformity determination from the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC). Depending on your project's scope, once conformity has been determined, NPC may refer your project to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) for further review. NIRB will screen your project proposal, and may determine that an impact assessment process is required under Nunavut Agreement Article 12, Part 5 or Part 6, by relevant government departments and NIRB. NIRB may further present the application for public consultations with affected communities.

If you intend to set up field camps, fuel caches, trails, roads, airstrips or other facilities for which you have not previously received permits, you must comply with all relevant legislation regarding permitting, construction, maintenance and removal of these facilities.

Permits for explosives

Advanced exploration activities often involve storage of packaged explosive components, and a temporary factory to manufacture blasting explosives. You are required to hold various permits and licences for the transport, storage and handling of explosives, under the same legislation and regulations that govern the use of explosives at mines.

Explosives transportation

Transport of explosives to your exploration project site is regulated by Transport Canada or by the territorial Department of Economic Development and Transportation, in accordance with the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act or the territorial Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, and their associated regulations.

Explosives storage and handling

The territorial Explosives Use Act and Explosives Use Regulations are administered by the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission of Northwest Territories and Nunavut (WSCC), and govern the permitting processes for the storage and use of explosives inside mine sites. The Mine Health and Safety Regulations, administered by WSCC, govern the permitting and certification process for storage, transportation, and handling of explosives on mine sites.

Explosives manufacturing

The federal Explosives Act and Explosives Regulations, administered by Natural Resources Canada, govern the required licencing for any manufacture of explosives at any location, as well as storage of explosives outside of mine sites. Manufacturing includes, but is not limited to, pumping, blending and destruction of explosives.

Additional information on permitting and handling of explosives related to production can be found in the mine development and production section.

For further information on explosives regulations, contact:

Natural Resources Canada
Lands and Minerals Sector
Explosives Safety and Security Branch

Explosives Regulatory Division

National Headquarters
588 Booth Street, 4th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y7
Phone: 1-855-912-0012

NRCan Explosives Services Online Portal

Feasibility studies

If the advanced exploration work on your project has had positive results, the next step is usually a feasibility study: a detailed geological, economic, technical, legal and environmental investigation of your project based on the information gathered through exploration and pre-development work.

As well as the technical side of the project, your feasibility study should take into account existing land claim agreements and socioeconomic considerations, and should incorporate Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Inuit cultural values and traditional knowledge. As part of the mineral industry's global movement towards improved environmental and social governance practices, examining the impact of exploration, development, production, and closure and reclamation, on a local and regional scale, is a vital component of the regulatory process in Nunavut.

The feasibility study's goal is to determine your project's profitability under various scenarios, and examine the sensitivity of the project to criteria including commodity prices, capital costs and technical risk. Having a positive feasibility study is not a requirement to begin the regulatory process, but it can assist with the preparation of a project proposal, as it covers similar information.

A project proposal includes a project description, resource requirements, and short-term and long-term benefit projections. You are required to submit a project proposal to NPC in order for the regulatory process to begin. More information on submitting a project proposal to NPC can be found on NPC's website.

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