Nunavut mining and exploration activities are regulated by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. In a land claims settlement, the mineral rights for about 10 per cent of Nunavut have been turned over to the Inuit community. The Inuit community sets the rules and regulations in those blocks that are not under federal jurisdiction.
Ore Body Ownership. Until some time in the early 1900s, surface rights and mineral rights came with the purchase of land, depending on the jurisdiction. Since then, mineral rights have been government-owned and cannot be purchased, only leased, by individuals or companies. As a result, mineral rights to more than 90 per cent of the land are currently owned by governments.
Leases. The regulation of mining activities on publicly owned mineral leases falls under provincial/territorial government jurisdiction. Thus, there is separate mining rights legislation for each of the thirteen Canadian jurisdictions except Nunavut.
Staking claims. Provincial laws provide for marking (staking) an area where a prospector is allowed to prospect. Claims remain valid as long as the prospector does a defined amount of work each year, and lapses if he lets them lie dormant.
In the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, individuals and companies must obtain a prospector’s license before exploring for minerals.
In the Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador, you may conduct prospecting or exploration activities without a license but you must have a license to actually acquire mineral rights (or "stake claims") to protect what one has discovered.
Effluent and environmental impact. Federal regulations relevant to mining and environmental impact pertain primarily to the quality of mine effluent and its impact on fish. The regulations establish procedures for monitoring water quality, and set discharge criteria and permissible impacts. Regulations are generally administered by provincial authorities. Each province has it own laws and regulations governing environmental impact assessments, and mine operating and closure criteria and requirements.
Control of Explosives and Blasting. The federal Explosives Act maintains a system of authorization, licensing, certification and permits, supported by a compliance inspection program. The act ensures that only responsible people have access to explosives.