Placer Mining in BC

Information and Resources

Home » Placer Mining in BC » Pumping Water

Pumping Water

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.

Using a Pump Without a Licence

There has been a general rule that if your hand mining doesn't need a permit, you can use a water pump without a licence if the suction intake is no larger than 38 mm or 1.5 inches.

The water intake must be screened - see below.

Using a 2 Inch Pump with a 1.5 Inch Restriction?

A lot of folks own 2 inch pumps. The new (October 2019) version of Information Update No. 38 - Permissible Activities without a Mines Act Permit says that a pump used in a hand-mining operation must be no larger than 1.5 inches at the "suction intake". Putting a 1.5 inch restriction inside the pump-intake - inside the pump, not the hose - might be acceptable. Putting a restriction in the end of the suction hose would presumably be against this rule.

Intake Screening

The water intake must be properly screened - no openings larger than 2.5 mm, and enough surface area that the water flow can't trap tiny fish.

The water intake must be inside a screened box or bucket. It may be weighted so that it sits on the stream bottom. The screens should be at least 12 inches above the stream bottom.

For details about screening the intake, see End-of-pipe fish protection screens for small water intakes in freshwater.

The Regulations

For legal details, see the Water Sustainability Regulation.

Hand Miners that can Pump without a Licence
And Can Ignore the Rest of this Page

If You Must Apply...

Pumping water from a watercourse is governed by the
Water Sustainability Act and the Water Sustainability Regulation.

There is a government Water Sustainability Act Home Page.

The Environment Ministry has its Water Sustainability Act main page.

if you plan to pump water, and you need a bigger pump or you do not qualify as a Hand Miner, you must apply for...

To get a water licence, it may be necessary to do a Notice of Work application to obtain a Reclamation Permit, even if you don't otherwise need one.

Learning about applying...

For information about applying, see the Environment Ministry's...

Water Licensing & Rights, which has general information and links including...
Water Licences & Approvals, which has a variety of links, including...
Apply for a Water Licence, which has a lot of information, including...

There are a lot of relevant links from FrontCounterBC. you can click on the "Self-Serve Online" box under Submitting a Natural Resource Application" and then click Water in the "List of Applications" at the top of the page.

There are a few pages that will be relevant to some people - pages with a name that contains the phrase "Changes in and About a Stream". Generally, you want to avoid doing anything that could be called "making changes in and about a stream - legally, it makes things much more complicated.

Application Cost and Water Rental

Its seems that the application for either a licence or an approval costs $500 and the Minimum Annual Rental is $200. These numbers seem high, but they were based on the work involved in handling and making decisions about applications and year to year rentals.

For a machine-digging operation, these are not large costs. For a modest hand-digging operation, these are significant costs, possibly comparable with the other major out-of-pocket expense - travel expenses.

Get a Licence to Lock In Your Right To Pump

The title pretty much says it. If it is a smallish stream, and you plan to use a sluice box or highbanker for more than one year, a licence means you know you have the right to pump the water.

Small-Scale Water Pumping Math (if you care)

Some Conversions

In Canada, we use Imperial gallons, which are larger than US gallons.

1 US gallon   =   3.785 Litres     so  50 gal   x  3.785   =  189 L
1 Imperial gallon   =   4.546 Litres     so  50 gal   x  4.546   =  227 L
1 Imperial gallon   =   1.2 US gal     so  50 Imp gal   x  1.2   =  60 US gal

1 Cubic Metre ("m3")  =  1000 L  =  220 Imp gal  =  264 US gal

Small Pump Capacity

These ranges may not really be right, but they give you the idea.

Pump Size US gal/min Litres/min cubic metres/hr
1.5 inch   50 to 100 200 to 400 12 to 24
   2 inch 100 to 200 400 to 800 24 to 48

Using Water

A quick Google search turned up a 1.5 inch gasoline-powered Honda pump.

The stated capacity was 74 gpm which is 280 L/min

280 L/min / 1000 l/m3 = 0.28 m3/min

0.28 m3/min x 60 min/hr = 16.8 m3/hr

If you know the conversion factor, but you don't know whether you should multiply or divide, first decide whether the result is going to be larger or smaller than the starting number.
An individual small-scale placer miner might run the pump at 1/3rd to 2/3rds capacity - 6 to 12 m3/hr.

At 5 hrs/day: 6 m3/hr x 5 hrs/day = 30 m3/day     to     12 m3/hr x 5 hrs/day = 60 m3/day

At 10 hrs/day, double those to 60 to 120 m3/day


Copyright 2011-2024 by Brian Marshall

All images on this website are copyrighted by their owners and they may not be downloaded for other than personal use - republication, retransmission, reproduction or other use is prohibited.

Note: This page may contain images from


  Contact Links Privacy Policy