Placer Mining in BC

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Claims and Leases

I am not an expert on mining law - I am just trying to help. Use the information in this website at your own risk. See the Notice at the bottom of this page.
Placer claims and leases are referred to as "titles" or "tenure", a right for some period of time to explore for and mine placer minerals. The word "titles" has mostly replaced the word "tenure" in the legislation, webpage and the MTO system, to refer to claims and leases.

Placer Claims

If you have a Free Miner Certificate, you can get a new Placer Claim in BC by clicking on MTO grid cells on the Mineral Titles Online ("MTO") mapping system and whipping out your credit card. The size of the cells varies (see below), but they are roughly 20 hectares. Acquiring (getting) a claim costs $5 per hectare - about $100 per cell.

Before 2005, a claim was acquired by staking - using wooden stakes with metal tags - and then recording the claim in the mining office. These old staked claims were generally 500 metres by 1000 metres (50 hectares). A small proportion of these claims were bent and were defined by 3 posts. Some of them had pieces missing where they would have otherwise overlapped an existing claim. Many of these old staked claims still exist - they are called "Legacy Claims".

Placer claims do not overlap. Where a legacy claim partially covers a grid cell, a cell-based claim in that cell only covers the ground not covered by the legacy claim. However, if the legacy claim expires, such a cell-based claim will automatically expand to include the entire cell.

A placer claim is maintained (renewed) - that is, held from year to year - by doing work on the claim, known as the "Assessment Work Requirement" of $20 per hectare - approximately $400 per cell. Alternatively, the owner can make a Payment Instead of Exploration and Development (PIED), also known as "Cash in Lieu" (CIL) of $40 per hectare - approximately $800 per cell.

Production on a Placer Claim

There is a limit of 20,000 cubic metres of "Pay Dirt" that can be produced per year from a placer claim.
Warning: This is a good example of where the advice in this web-site is for general guidance - its accuracy is not guaranteed. I don't claim to be an expert and there is no definition of "Pay Dirt" in either the Mineral Tenure Act or the Mineral Tenure Act Regulation. This being the case, inspectors in different districts could define "Pay Dirt" differently. If the exact definition of "Pay Dirt" is relevant to your operation, you would be wise to discuss the matter with the appropriate district office.
I have discussed the definition of "Pay Dirt" with one of the district mining offices in about 2010. I was told that "Pay Dirt" is what is washed through the sluice (or other final recovery equipment); It does not include over-size (ex. boulders rejected by a grizzly) However, see the Warning, above.

(There is no production limits on placer leases - see below).

Size of a Placer Claim

A placer claim be made up of anywhere from 1 to 100 cells.

Placer claims may be "amalgamated" (combined) or subdivided (the cells may be split into two or more smaller claims). The number of cells may be reduced.

Size of Cells

MTO grid cells vary in size. They are larger North-South than they are East-West, and the further North a cell is, the smaller it is. (They are based on latitude and longitude, and the lines of longitude get closer together as you go North.) MTO cell size is measured in Hectares (ha). 100 metres by 100 metres is one hectare.

The areas are accurate for a 1-cell claim; the distances were measured using the tool on the MTO mapping system....

As Far North As     N-S (m)     E-W (m)     Size (ha)
12 km South of Yukon Border     464     350     16.24
Atlin on Atlin Lake     464     354     16.39
Manson Creek in the Omineca     464     393     18.24
Prince George     464     412     19.05
Wells in the Cariboo     464     419     19.41
Lillooet on the Fraser River     464     442     20.47
Princeton on the Similkameen River     464     453     21.02
1 km North of US Border     464     458     21.19

Placer Leases

In a
Placer Lease Area, a placer claim can be converted into a placer lease. The two biggest differences between a claim and a lease are...

A claim is turned into a lease by submitting an application using the MTO System and following a few other steps. In most cases, a survey by a British Columbia Land Surveyor will have to be done (at the applicant's cost). The cost of this survey may claimed as physical work to maintain the claim. See For More Information, below.

A placer lease is usually granted for an initial period of ten years. If justified by a mining operation, this period can be renewed.

A placer lease is a more secure form of title than a claim. It cannot be legally challenged except in the case of fraud.

Location of Placer Claims and Leases

The location of a placer claim or lease is defined as where it appears in the Ministry's MTO mapping system. This is a result of legislation effective January 1, 2008. This is true for all claims, including the old legacy placer claims that were originally defined by the location of posts in the ground.

The purpose of this approach is to make the location of claims and leases clear and certain. No one can declare that the location of a post is or was in a particular place so "you are on my claim". Since the law came into effect, the location of posts makes no difference.

For More Information

For more information, see the following Information Updates...

No.   6     Applying for a Lease of Placer Minerals (LPM)

No. 16     Claim and Lease

No. 31     Mining and Placer Lease Survey Procedure


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