Mine development and production

Information about the legislation related to permitting of mine development and production.

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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

Mine development

Mining operations at your site may begin once you as the proponent have received your Project Certificate and all related permits and licenses; see the section on Advanced exploration and mine development for more information. Once your mine is in operation, there are various acts and regulations that govern specific production-related activities and equipment.

Mine design and ground stability

Under the territorial Mine Health and Safety Act (MSHA) and its regulations, the WSCC requires you, as the proponent, to submit your mine design, plan of surface and underground workings, plan of surface facilities, general ventilation plan, safety and mine rescue plans, and emergency rescue procedures to the Chief Inspector of Mines. These plans must be signed by an engineer with a P.Eng. designation valid in the territory. You must update these plans annually.

Ground stability for surface and subsurface facilities must be covered adequately in the mine design. Your project's mine design must be prepared and sealed by a professional engineer who is certified under the territorial Engineers and Geoscientists Act and approved by the Chief Inspector of Mines before any operations can begin.

The territorial MHSA and the Mine Health and Safety Regulations (MSHR) also set standards for building and equipment safety, including installation of mandatory handrails, guardrails, and guards or other protective devices on machinery. Mine inspectors can order you to take appropriate steps to correct hazards and ensure employee safety.

As the manager or the owner of the mine, you must make available, at all times, an accurate survey and an updated surface and underground mine plan for workers and inspectors. You must submit an updated copy of the mine plan to the Chief Inspector of Mines each year.

Plant or mill operations

The territorial Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) defines the roles, duties and responsibilities of various officials at mining facilities, and describe the rights and responsibilities of inspectors both in general inspections and in investigating accidents resulting in injuries, death or property damage. Its regulations include provisions for mine workers to refuse work in dangerous situations. They also require the formation of a health and safety committee to ensure a safe work environment.


The Nunavut Waters Regulations (NWR) set the licencing requirements for your site's sewage management and waste disposal. The MHSA and its regulations govern sewage treatment and disposal at a mine. Water treatment and disposal are addressed in other territorial legislation, as are public health and working conditions.

Your project's water licence sets the conditions for sewage treatment to avoid the introduction of deleterious substances into territorial waters. Conditions for disposing of waste and sewage are also specified in land use permits and surface land leases for activities on Crown lands.


Tailings management is part of the terms and conditions of all authorities which issue licenses and approvals as part the regulatory process. The materials contained in mine tailings dictate their specific management, including criteria related to stability and revegetation of tailings storage areas on land or criteria for construction and maintenance of tailings ponds.

Your land use permit and water licence may set out specific measures to avoid any introduction of deleterious substances from tailings into waterways. This may include the creation of tailings impoundment areas to protect watersheds around the mine site. Use of water for the transportation or deposition of tailings, such as a tailings pond, may be authorized.

Drill cuttings must be contained at the drill site and be prevented from entering natural water bodies or leaching acidic water.

Waste rock piles

Waste rock piles on your mine site must be stabilized and contoured. You must submit plans for your mine's waste rock management as part of your land use permit application. These plans will be reviewed as part of your application, and may have terms and conditions set on them by the various regulatory bodies.

Under the Territorial Land Use Regulations, a letter of clearance will be issued by the relevant regulators once all the conditions of the land use permit have been met.


Annual royalties must be paid to the Receiver General of Canada on a percentage of the value of the output of a mine situated on mineral leases issued under the Nunavut Mining Regulations (NMR). The value of the output for royalty purposes is calculated based on the market value of the minerals produced by the mine, minus various deductions and allowances provided for in the regulations. Deductions include costs for mineral exploration, production, and processing, repair and maintenance at the mine, and allowances include an equipment depreciation allowance, a development allowance, and a processing allowance. More information on royalty payment calculations can be found in the NMR.

For further information on royalty payments and related issues, contact:

Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
Natural Resources and Environment Branch

Petroleum and Mineral Resources Management Directorate

Mining and Petroleum Royalties Advisor
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière Building
25 Eddy Street, 10th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H4
Phone: 819-639-7460

Mine site health and safety

Mine site health and safety is legislated by the Government of Nunavut through the Mine Health and Safety Act and the Camps Health Services Act and their regulations, which are administered by the WSCC and the territorial Department of Health respectively. More information on health and safety issues can be found in the Occupational health and safety (OHS) and Labour sections.


Territorial regulations require that mine employees be trained on emergency rescue procedures, implementation of spill contingency plans, and the operation, maintenance, and testing of mining equipment. This training should be updated as required. More information on training requirements can be found in the OHS section.

Equipment operation

You require permits from the WSCC's Chief Inspector of Mines for operation of raise climbers, hoists, elevators, and shafts, and for fuel storage, underground explosives storage, and operation of internal combustion engines in areas of buildings which may be hazardous locations.

All diesel engines on your mine site must pass national emissions standards, and a diesel permit must be obtained from the Chief Inspector of Mines for each engine intended for underground use.

Employees who will be designated as supervisors or shift bosses must hold underground shift boss certificates, issued by the Chief Inspector of Mines. Requirements for and information about the various certifications required for exploration and mine employees can be found in the Mine Health and Safety Regulations (MHSR) and at the WSCC website.

Ventilation and air quality

The territorial MHSR set the air quality standard for auxiliary ventilation and unventilated workings. Ventilation in mine facilities must be sufficient to maintain levels of air quality specified in the MHSR. An up-to date general plan showing all workings, ventilation, and infrastructure must be available at all times.

In setting the allowable limits of combustible and airborne dusts, the type and amount of equipment used in the workings are also taken into consideration.

The MHSR also set out procedures to be followed in the event that flammable or toxic gas is encountered in underground workings.

Mine rescue

Mine rescue plans must be in place before any facilities begin to operate. You must establish, equip, and maintain refuge stations as directed by the Chief Inspector of Mines.

Territorial regulations set out the number of employees to be trained in mine rescue, and the setup of mine rescue teams. All accidents of a serious nature must be reported to the Chief Inspector of Mines without delay.

Noise abatement and visibility

The mine manager must take reasonable measures to ensure noise levels at work sites do not exceed maximum occupational exposure limits. Mine managers must ensure that all possible noise abatement procedures are implemented, and that all employees are fitted with proper hearing protective devices.

All work areas must have appropriate levels of illumination. You must provide workers appropriate protective equipment, which they must wear, as set out in the MHSR.

Exposure monitoring

The MHSR require you as the mine manager to conduct an annual analysis of hazards, including those related to exposure to hazardous materials. These analyses are required to develop and implement effective procedures for the proper storage and control of these materials to ensure a hazard-free work environment.

Your operational plans should protect workers and limit the amount of adverse exposure to deleterious elements in their work environment. Exposure of mine workers to toxic or radioactive minerals which occurs as part of mine operations must be monitored and recorded. See the Occupational health and safety section for more information on dangerous goods, hazardous material, and related requirements.

Fire prevention

Fire prevention, fire investigation, and reporting of fires and resulting injuries during industrial activities are regulated by the territorial government. It is your responsibility as the owner or mine manager to have emergency procedures in place to reduce the risk of fire, and to ensure the safety of mine personnel in the event of a fire.

The territorial Fire Safety Act and its accompanying regulations cover fire prevention measures for both surface and subsurface mining operations. These regulations set standards and criteria for the installation, use, and maintenance of equipment required to reduce the risks of fire. Review of construction or repair plans and periodic inspection by the fire marshal or authorized delegates are required to ensure proper maintenance of equipment and that precautions are taken against fire and the spread of fire.

Mine managers are required to conduct annual fire risk assessments and regular inspections of firefighting equipment. There must be an emergency warning system in place for safe evacuation in the event of a fire.

For more information about fire prevention and fire safety, contact:

Government of Nunavut
Department of Community and Government Services

Office of the Fire Marshal

Safety Services, Community and Government Services
Government of Nunavut
P.O. Box 1000 – Station 610
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Business Line: 1-844-975-5493
Emergency Line: 1-833-966-2280
Email: nunavutfiremarshal@gov.nu.ca

Explosives and explosives manufacture

The use and transportation of explosives at your mine is regulated by the territorial MHSA and Explosives Use Act and their corresponding regulations. Further information on use and storage of explosives can be found in the section on Dangerous goods.

For further information on occupational health and safety requirements and regulations, contact:

Government of Nunavut
Department of Health

Environmental Health

Qikiqtani Region
Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Kimmirut, Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Iqaluit:
Regional Environmental Health Officer
Phone: 867-975-4817 or 867-975-4815
Fax : 867-975-4833

Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq:
Regional Environmental Health Officer
Phone: 867-473-2676
Fax: 867-473-2657

Kivalliq Region
Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Rankin Inlet, Naujaat, Sanikiluaq, Whale Cove:
Environmental Health Officer
Phone: 867-645-8071
Fax: 867-645-8272

Kitikmeot Region
Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Taloyoak:
Regional Environmental Health Officer
Phone: 867-983-4236
Fax: 867-983-4239

Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Nunavut office (Iqaluit)

Qamutiq Building, 2nd Floor
630 Queen Elizabeth II Way
Box 669, Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-979-8500
Toll-Free: 877-404-4407
Fax: 867-979-8501
Toll-Free Fax: 866-979-8501

NWT office (Yellowknife)

Chief Inspector of Mines
WSCC Preventive Services
Box 8888
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2R3
Phone: 867-920-3841
Fax: 867-873-0262
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0792

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