Energy, Mines and Resources

Minerals

Exploration

Once a person or company has acquired sub-surface tenure, they will want to explore their claims. This chapter outlines the basic elements of a successful exploration program. However, it is paramount that all applicants become familiar with applicable legislation.

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Types of Exploration

  • Airborne Geophysics
  • Prospecting and Reconnaissance Geology
  • Line Cutting
  • Geological Mapping
  • Geochemical Surveys
  • Ground Geophysical Surveys
  • Mechanical and Hand Trenching and Stripping
  • Drilling

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Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment
The Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB ensures that the environmental effects of disturbances caused by exploration are minimized, through the application of the standard operating conditions, noted above. Most exploration activities are assessed under the Yukon Environmental & Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

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The Assessors
Most mining exploration activities require a YESAA assessment. These assessments are conducted by the YESAA Board (YESAB), through one of six Designated Offices (DOs) located throughout Yukon. The assessments are conducted within time lines set out in YESAB’s Rules. During the assessment, the assessor seeks input from government, First Nations, and the public on proposed projects. The assessment process consists of identifying the environmental and socio-economic effects of a project and identifying appropriate mitigation before providing a recommendation, usually with terms and conditions, to the decision body on whether a project should proceed.

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Government's Role
The Yukon government, through the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, continues to be the decision maker for most mineral projects and is responsible for regulating and enforcing permits and licenses for exploration (and development) projects which fall under its legislated authority. As a decision body, the Yukon government reviews the recommendation from the assessor, decides whether to accept, reject or vary the assessment recommendation, and states this decision in a decision document.

Mining Recorder Office staff will guide proponents through requirements for both the assessment and the permit/authorization stages of projects.

The following figure illustrates the assessment and decision making processes and the key players involved (Source: Yukon Government, Executive Council Office).

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Classes of Mining Land Use Operations
The Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB (pursuant to the Quartz Mining Act  578 KB) establishes a classification system based on varying levels of specific activities (see the threshold table). These threshold levels of activities categorize exploration activities into four classes of operation. Classes 1 through 4 represent activities with increasing potential to cause adverse environmental impacts. Each item within the table defines the upper limit of an activity or element permissible within that class of operation. If an exploration operation exceeds even one of the criteria identified, it would move up into the next class of operation.

There are differences in the details required in the application and approval process for each class of program. In addition to the activities undertaken in an exploration program, the planned duration of the program is an important factor for consideration in applications. The type of approvals required depends on the class identified for the exploration program.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all application forms and related plans are completed, contain all of the required technical information, and are submitted within the correct class of program. Failure to do so could result in delays.

If an activity (i.e. airborne geophysical survey) is not listed in the following table, that activity will not be used to classify the program, but should be included in an application for a Notification  50 KB or Quartz Mining Land Use Approval (available in English  220 KB and français  203 KB). Prior to submission of either, proponents are encouraged to contact the Mining Lands Officer to ensure that the appropriate class of permit is applied for.

Table: Class Criteria for Exploration Programs

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Class 1 Program (Notification required)
Activities within a Class 1 program are defined as “grassroots” low-level exploration activities, generally with low potential to cause adverse environmental effects, and where activities and reclamation are completed within a 12 month period. It is a requirement by law that all placer and quartz claim holders and prospectors provide notification to Yukon government of their plans to conduct Class 1 mining exploration activities on designated lands across Yukon. As part of this notification process Yukon government consults with affected First Nations and stakeholders within the designated Class 1 notification areas. A YESAA assessment is not required for a Class 1 program.

Class 1 programs are subject to random inspections by a Natural Resources Officer (NRO), in EMR’s Compliance Monitoring and Inspections branch.The NRO will look for compliance with Operating Conditions and check that the activities fall within the criteria that define the Class 1 program. The Yukon government may collect security from some companies to cover potential liabilities, depending on the location and type of activities proposed. Please visit EMR’s Class 1 Notification webpage to find maps of the areas where Class 1 notification applies, links to the Notification Forms and further information.

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Class 2 Program (Notification required)
Class 2 programs are considered to represent the upper level of grassroots exploration activities. They typically comprise activities that have a moderate potential to cause adverse environmental effects and therefore require an assessment through YESAA. A Class 2 Program must be completed within 12 months of the program’s start date, including reclamation requirements and the removal of camps.

Proponents should talk with the Mining Lands Officer prior to submitting their projects to the YESAB DO in order to ensure that they are within the threshold of a Class 2. Once this is confirmed, the proponent needs to submit a Class 2 Notification which describes the proposed work and how reclamation and decommissioning will take place.

How to Apply for a Class 2 Notification

  1. The proponent contacts the YESAB DO and fills out Form 1  223 KB. The proponent also contacts the Mining Lands Officer with their Notification application and fees. When completing a Class 2 Notification form  50 KB, the onus is on the applicant to outline the reclamation and mitigation measures being proposed. The filing fees for a Class 2 Notification are as set out in Schedule 2 of the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB.
    *Note: It is important that the applicant be available during the review period of the Notification application. The applicant will normally be contacted about any required alterations or changes deemed necessary for the program’s approval. The Chief of Mining Land Use may decide that there are special public concerns respecting the lands affected by the exploration activities, and that the program must be re-submitted as a Class 3 or 4 application.
  2. The YESAB DO conducts the assessment of the project proposal by seeking input from government agencies, First Nations, interested parties and the public. Once the DO has determined that the proposal is complete, it must publish notice of the assessment on YESAB’s online registry within six days. At that point, a public input period of 14 days begins, and can be extended by up to an additional 56 days, if required.
  3. The YESAB DO completes the assessment based on input received and produces an assessment report with a recommendation on whether the project should proceed as is, proceed with terms and conditions, or not proceed.
  4. The Yukon government Decision Body for mineral exploration projects, EMR’s Mineral Resources branch, issues a Decision Document accepting, varying or rejecting the assessor’s recommendation within 30 days of receiving the recommendation. The Decision Body can extend the timeline by an additional seven days if consultation with First Nation without a final agreement is required.
  5. Once the Decision Document is issued, the proponent must agree in writing to any additional mitigation set out in the Decision Document before the application process can proceed.
  6. The proponent completes a Class 2 Notification by including terms of the Yukon government Decision Document.
  7. If the Notification form is complete, the Mining Lands Officer officially accepts the Notification and enters key information into the Mining Lands Public Register.
  8. If the Chief of Mining Land Use determines that the Notification form lacks necessary information, the proponent will be contacted for more information or clarification. If the proponent cannot be contacted, the Notification form will be returned to the proponent.
  9. Within 25 days, the Chief of Mining Land Use makes a decision on whether to approve the Class 2 Notification or redirect it to a Class 3 or 4 category. If rejected, the proponent is notified. If the Chief of Mining Land Use approves the Class 2 Notification or does not respond to the proponent within 25 days, the proponent may proceed with the Class 2 exploration program.
  10. The onus is on the applicant to check for a written response from the Chief of Mining Land Use at their mailing address and/or facsimile number(s) provided in the application. Documents and/or requests for information will be mailed unless alternative contact methods have been requested, with details provided.

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Class 3 or 4 Programs
All Class 3 and 4 Programs require submission of a detailed Operating Plan to the Mining Lands Officer. The Operating Plan must be approved before any exploration activities can proceed. An Operating Plan package is available at the Mining Recorders Office. Operating Plans may entail multi-year exploration programs to allow greater flexibility for the operator. The applicant specifies within the Operating Plan the proposed timeframe for the activities up to a 10-year duration, which the Chief of Mining Land Use may approve or alter. For Class 4 Programs, the Chief of Mining Land Use may require the operator to consult the public. The Operating Plan outlines all of the proposed project activities and requirements, as well as what measures will be undertaken to minimize any adverse effects on the environment. The onus is on the applicant to outline the operating procedures that will reduce potential effects to acceptable limits.

How to Apply for a Class 3 or 4 Quartz Mining Land Use Approval

  1. After contacting the Mining Recorders Office, the proponent fills out an application (English  220 KB or français  203 KB) for a Class 3 or 4 Quartz Mining Land Use Operating Plan and submits it with fees to the office.
  2. The proponent contacts the YESAB DO and submits Form 1  223 KB with a copy of the Class 3 or 4 application.
  3. The YESAB DO conducts the assessment of the project proposal by seeking input from government agencies, First Nations, interested parties and the public. Once the YESAB DO has determined the proposal is complete, it must publish notice of the assessment on YESAB’s online registry within six days. At that point, a public input period of 14 days begins, which can be extended by up to an additional 56 days if required.
  4. The YESAB DO completes the assessment based on input received and produces an assessment report with a recommendation on whether project should proceed as is, proceed with terms and conditions, or not proceed.
  5. The Yukon government Decision Body for mineral exploration projects, EMR’s Mineral Resources branch issues a Decision Document accepting, varying or rejecting the assessor’s recommendation within 30 days of receiving the recommendation. The Decision Body can extend the timeline by an additional seven days if consultation with a First Nation without a final agreement is involved.
  6. Once the decision body issues a Decision Document allowing the project to proceed, the Mining Lands Officer drafts an approval and the Chief of Mining Land Use determines whether to issue approval of the Operating Plan. Generally, this approval is issued promptly. The regulated timelines are available from the Mining Lands Officer.
  7. If the Operating Plan is approved, the approval is issued with terms and conditions which conform to the Decision Document. If the Operating Plan is rejected, the proponent is notified.

*Note: For Class 4 applications, the Chief of Mining Land Use has up to 67 days from the first publication of public notice to review comments, decide whether there is ‘significant public concern’ and inform the applicant whether a public consultation is required and in what manner. The requirement for a public consultation could further increase the approval time period.

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Completing an Operating Plan
An Operating Plan to conduct a Class 3 or Class 4 program must be prepared by the operator, and submitted for approval by the Chief of Mining Land Use. The Operating Plan must be fully completed with all the necessary information in order to be accepted. The information required in a Class 3 or 4 Operating Plan is outlined in the following sections or, alternatively, the operator may complete questions provided in the Operating Plan application.

In order to avoid any unnecessary delays in the program’s approval, the proponent is encouraged to contact the district Mining Lands Officer who can answer any questions or concerns regarding the requirements of the Operating Plan.

An Operating Plan requires the following information, as per Section 9(1) of the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB:

  1. The name, address and telephone number of the person submitting the Operating Plan.
    This requirement is to identify the responsible person and provide contact information for the Mining Recorder Office. The term “person” refers not only to individuals but includes corporations and partnerships. Additional information such as facsimile numbers and e-mail addresses, alternate telephone numbers or specific individuals designated as contacts, etc. will aid in the efficient processing of the application.
  2. A description of the natural characteristics of the area where the program is to be carried out.
    The natural characteristics of an area should include general and site specific data that are relevant to conducting exploration activity within that area. This would include natural features such as topographic information, elevation, terrain hazards known in the area (e.g. permafrost, landslides, etc.), vegetation types and descriptions, annual and seasonal weather statistics, descriptions of water sources and habitat. Other relevant information could include exploration and mining history, road access, existing man-made objects, etc..
  3. A map which clearly shows the area of influence within the proposed Operating Plan, which indicates:
    i. topography;
    ii. the location and ground extent of the program;
    iii. the areas to be reclaimed;
    iv. the locations of bodies of water and streams;
    v. the location of lands in the area of the program that are subject to rights or interests held by other parties (if known). This generally refers to other “users” of the area that hold interests such as timber rights, coal leases and licenses, quarry permits, First Nation lands, private property, placer claims, trap-lines, other surrounding quartz claims, historic sites, etc.; and
    vi. the proposed access routes and, when known by the applicant, the existing access routes.
  4. The start date of the program and the anticipated duration to a ten-year maximum.
  5. A description of the activities to be undertaken including the reclamation measures proposed.
    If an activity in the exploration program is not listed within the “Exploration Program Class Criteria”, the activity will not be used in determining the class of program. However, the activity should still be listed in the application for the Operating Plan.
  6. A summary of any consultations that were previously held concerning the proposed Operating Plan with any other parties that may have a right or interest in the area of the Program.

The Filing Fees must accompany the application before processing can proceed. The Filing Fees for a Class 3 or 4 Operating Plan are set out in Schedule 2 of the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB.

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Amendments to an Operating Plan
Many operators may not have the ability to predict multi-year exploration programs as future activities are built on current exploration results. A program amendment may be submitted to the Chief of Mining Land Use for approval of changes and/or additions to the Operating Plan. Such amendments may trigger another assessment under YESAA. See QMA  578 KB; Sections 141-143.

Amendments may also include a change in the duration of the program. The original approved Operating Plan is maintained, but it will then contain approved and attached amendments. The appropriate filing fees provided in Schedule 2 of the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation must accompany the amended application before processing can begin.

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Assignment of an Operating Plan
If changes occur to the ownership of the approved Operating Plan, the Assignment of Operation Plan form (English  38.1 KB or français  51 KB) must be completed and turned in to the District Mining Recorder Office, with the appropriate fees. This must be done at least 25 calendar days before the date of the proposed assignment. See QMA  578 KB; Sections 141-143; Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB; Section 16.

The Chief of Mining Land Use will authorize the assignment when the assignee (prospective new holder) undertakes in writing to comply with the Operating Plan and furnishes any required security.

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Certificate of Completion
The operator should, on final completion of their Operating Plan, apply to the Chief of Mining Land Use for a Certificate of Completion. To issue a Certificate of Completion, the Chief must be satisfied that the operator has complied with all the terms and conditions and the reclamation requirements of the Operating Plan approval and of the QMA  578 KB and Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB; Sections 137 and 149.

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Security
Security may be required of any proponent where it is determined that there may be a risk of adverse environmental effect. Past performance of an operator may be considered. The security cannot total more than the costs of restoring the site, including any measures required to be taken or continued. In fixing the amount of security, the Chief of Mining Land Use may consider the degree of risk, the financial ability of the proponent and any security deposited under the Waters Act. There are several forms of security that are acceptable under the QMA.

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Pre and Post Season Reports
When applying for a Class 3 or 4 program, where the duration is more than one year, a proponent will list all activities and areas of exploration. The results of the first year’s program may determine the course of the exploration in future years.

To accommodate the proponent need for flexibility and EMR’s enforcement unit need for certainty, EMR requires an annual pre-season report. This report will give a general layout of what work is expected to be done that year, including maps showing locations of drill sites and trenches.

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Previous Disturbances
It is important for applicants to document all previous disturbances or structures on their claim in their application submission. Any workings which the Mining Lands Officer has not been made aware of could later be mistaken as resulting from current prospecting or mining activities.

If a proponent plans to make minor disturbances on large, pre-existing workings, such as collecting hand samples from existing trenches, concessions for reclamation of existing disturbances may be made. It is recommended that this is reviewed with the Mining Lands Officer before proceeding with work. See Quartz Mining Act  578 KB: Section 149; Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB; Schedule 1.

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Operating Conditions
Minimal performance levels for land use activities are set out in the Operating Conditions defined in the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB. They apply to all mineral exploration programs at all times, including Class 1 activities. Additional mitigation will be required for project-specific concerns in operating plan approvals.

For more information about the operating conditions and how to achieve their objectives, see Schedule 1 of the Quartz Mining Land Use Regulation  520 KB.

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Fees

Schedule of Fees  
Class 2 Notification $100.00 
Application for an approval of an Operating Plan for a Class 3 or 4 exploration program of not more than five years duration $250.00
Application for approval of an Operating Plan for a Class 3 or 4 exploration program of more than 5 years duration $500.00
Amendment to an Operating Plan $150.00
Application for an assignment of an Operating Plan $50.00

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