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.

NOT for Government Applications and Reporting
Do Not use for Notice Of Work maps

The MTO map viewers are NOT what you use to make maps for applications and reporting, like doing a NOW (a Notice Of Work) to apply for a permit to do machine digging.

For applications and reporting, you make maps using the iMapBC online mapping application.

Table of Contents

  Which Map Viewer? Probably the Green Placer Map button
  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 Map Data Upload Shapefiles, KML files , from Geomark, etc.

Which Map Viewer?

On the
MTO home page, there are two Placer Map buttons...

Green-button Placer Map viewer (lower-left) - Usually Best

Most people use this one.

Note: The rest of this page is about this map viewer.

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

Blue-button Placer Map Viewer (lower-right)

This map viewer has some good features, but I haven't looked at it since it was first released years ago. Maps on this viewer are sometimes a bit hard to read.

This map viewer has many search options - claims, reserves, provincial parks, survey parcels, Crown Grants, etc.

Note: The rest of this page is about the other map viewer.

Trying to describe both viewers here would make it much more difficult for someone just trying to learn. My approach is that if you can use the other map viewer, you can probably figure out how to use this one.

Quick Start

The idea is to click on that green Placer Map button, and play with the map. Put the cursor over things, click things, see what they do.

If you get really lost, you can "Zoom to BC", or close the window and start over.

You can print a map, and probably save it as a PDF file. There is a printer button in the top right of the map. 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.

Map Layers

The "Map Layers" button in the upper-right corner of the map looks like a stack of sheets. Imagine that the sheets are clear plastic. Claims are on one layer, placer areas on another layer, parks are on another, 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

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

For 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.

You can get information about items on layers - claims, reserves, parks, etc.

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.)

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, I think).

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.


Click where it says: "BC Roads" in the bottom right corner of the map. There are several imagery layers you can choose. "ESRI Imagery" is good. (The "ESRI Topo" and "OSM Landscape" are not imagery, but they are good options.)

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

Upload Map Data

You can upload map-layers, including ESRI Shapefiles, KML files, data from Geomark, etc.

In the Layers to the right of the map, the button (just above all the layers) looks like a grey stack of layers with a white plus-sign over it. If the Layers are not visible to the right of the map, click on the stack-of-layers button in the upper-right corner.


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