Mineral Titles Online - MTO

Using the BC MTO Online System

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How to Make an MTO Map

Maps for Gold Panning, Prospecting and Placer Mining in BC

Mineral Titles Online - MTO - is mostly used to make maps.

MTO maps can show placer areas, claims, private land, First Nations land, parks and more.

Table of Contents

  Which Map? Green and Blue Placer Map buttons
  Quick Start Getting started, zooming-in, searching
  Map Layers Turn claims, grid cells, etc. on and off
  Placer Areas Where a Free Miner can get a claim
  Private Land Where you have to give notice to enter
  Imagery Satellite (and air-photo?) imagery
  Upload Shapefiles Load points, lines, shapes to the map
  Print or Save Map Print or Save as PDF or image

Which Map?

On the MTO home page, both the Green buttons and the Blue buttons have a Placer Map button.

Lower-Left   -   Green-button CWM map

This is the one most people use most of the time.

Use the other map if you want to do fancy searches, draw on the map or save a map as a bookmark, PDF file or image file.

This map viewer is used to select cells when getting a new claim and to select claims to renew - registering work or paying cash in lieu.

Lower-Right   -   Blue-button IMF2 map

This map viewer has some good features (from the old MTO system), but sometimes it makes maps that can be hard to read.

The other map is better for most purposes. Use this map if you want one of these features...

This map has a lot of search options - zoom in to one or more claims, reserves, survey parcels, Crown Grants, First Nations Reserves, provincial parks - many of the Map Layers that you can turn on and off.

Any search can be for a list...
You can search for a list of claims, separated by semi-colons ";" and the map will zoom in to the area of the claims and highlight them on the map.

You can draw on these maps, and you can save them as bookmarks. You can also save maps as PDF files and image files.

Image files can optionally be saved with georeference data - what you need to import the image into mapping software.

Quick Start

The idea is to click on that green Placer Map button, and play with the map. It is much better than the old one for finding your way to some place by the highways and lakes/rivers. Put the cursor over things, click things, see what they do.

If you get really lost, you can "Zoom to BC" (in IMF2, it's called: "Full Extent"). Or, you can close the window and start over.

You can print a map, and probably save it as a PDF file or image file. See Print or Save Map at the bottom of this page. PDF maps can be opened and printed with Adobe Reader and probably with your web browser. They can be attached to email.

To make a map...

To see placer claims the map has to be zoomed in far enough. They are pink.

If you are using the Blue-button IMF2 map viewer...

Map Layers

The "Map Layers" tool/button looks like a stack of sheets. (On the Blue-button IMF2 map, it is on the "Basic Tools" tab.) Imagine that the sheets are clear plastic. Claims are on one layer, placer areas on another layer, and so on.

You can turn layers on and off. There are quite a number of them, including...

Placer Claims called "Title (current)" pink
Placer Areas two layers in top group light-orange or light-brown
Private land light-yellow
First Nations land green
Parks green
Reserves areas with restrictions green, yellow, other
Contours contour lines - in "Base Maps" layer group

Some green background is on the "DataBC Roads" background (on the Green-button CWM map) - you can only turn it off by selecting "White" instead (bottom-right corner of the map).

Some layers, like Claims - called "Title (current)" - and especially Private Land, you have to be zoomed-in enough for the layer to actually be turned on.

Turn Layers Off To See More Detail...

You can turn off layers or whole groups of layers to make it easier to see details...

Placer Areas

Placer Areas are areas where you can get a claim.

They usually show up on the map as a light-orange or light-brown background color. The color can be different if there are also other layers adding color - private land, parks, etc.

There are two kinds of placer areas, but for most people it doesn't matter. (In "Placer Claim Areas", you can't convert a placer claim into a placer lease.)

On the Green-button CWM map, placer areas are turned on when you first open the map, but you have to zoom-in once for them to show up. On this map, you can see them at a very broad scale.

On the Blue-button IMF2 map, you have to turn placer areas on - the two bottom layers in the top "Placer Titles (MTO)" group of layers. For the placer areas to show up on this map, you have to zoom-in - from the whole province, you have to zoom-in four times.

Private Land

The owner of Private Land owns the rights to the surface.

Some private land, mostly granted in the 1800s, also includes the right to some or all minerals under the surface.

Private land shows on the map as a light-yellow but you have to be zoomed-in a lot. From all of BC, you have to click the zoom-in button ten times (this might change).

This light-yellow is the "...Private Ownership" layer from the "Private Land Layers" group. Pink from this layer is Crown land (part of a Survey Parcel, but never made private).

You can turn on the "Surface Ownership..." layer in the "Crown Land Layers (Tantalis)" layer group. For this layer, you don't have to be zoomed in as much - eight times from all of BC. The colors are like the other layer - light-yellow is private land, pink is Crown land.

There are other yellow layers - some reserves (areas with restrictions) are yellow - usually a darker yellow.


On the Green-button CWM map, click where it says: "DataBC Roads" in the bottom right corner of the map. There are several imagery layers you can choose. "ESRI Imagery" is good.

To get back to just a background of roads and creeks, select "DataBC Roads". To get a white background, select "White".

On the Blue-button IMF2 map, click where it says: "BC Roads" - you can also choose: Streets, Imagery and Topography. Select "BC Roads" again to get back to a background of roads and creeks.

Upload Shapefiles

You can upload ESRI Shapefiles to the Green-button CWM maps - the button looks like a grey stack of layers with an white arrow going over it.

This feature does not work - at least not for two shapefiles I tried on June 30, 2016.

Printing and Saving Maps

Area of the Map and Map Scale

Printed maps usually include a legend, title, border, etc. They are made to fit on a size of paper (which you might be able to choose).

To make it fit, the area of the printed map will change - the printed map will show more or less area on the ground than the map on the screen.

If you don't change anything, the Map Scale - the zoom-in - will be the same on the printed map and the map on the screen. You may be able to change the Map Scale for the printed map to some standard Scale like 1:10,000. This will also change the area shown on the printed map.

On the Green-Button CWM Map

Click on the button/picture that looks like a printer (top of map on the right).

You can enter a Title and Notes that will appear on the map.

When you click "Print", it will make the map with a border, title and legend, and open it in a new window. You can print the map and maybe save it as a PDF file (if you see "Print to File" as one of the printers).

On the Blue-button IMF2 Map

On the Print and Export tab, you can click Print, and select paper size, Output Format (PDF or image file-type), the Map Scale and a Title.

Image file-type isn't very important. A PDF is something different (you can use Adobe Reader). The others are just different ways of storing images - photos. PNG is usually a good choice. The major difference between them is file-size. If your map has Satellite Imagery, a jpg/Jpeg file will probably be smaller than the same map as a png file.

Changing the Map Scale will change the area displayed by the map.

If you click GeoTIFF Image, it will create a kind of image that includes georeference data - what's needed to import the image into other mapping software. The image is of the map only - no border, title, legend, etc.

If you click Export, you get more options for file type - PDF plus more kinds of image files. You have the choice of having "Georeference Data" included (see the previous paragraph). Exported maps don't have a border, title, legend, etc.

If you don't know what Georeference Data is, you don't need it. If you get georeference data, it will be in a separate file, so you get two files - the image and the geo-ref data - in a zip file.


Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Brian Marshall     brian@bcplacer.com

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The 2nd image is from FREEBigPictures.com


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