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ProblemsThe following points are some of the more common errors (pitfalls) made by geologists, managers and administrators when dealing with property and claim maintenance.

Surface Rights

In most Canadian jurisdictions, the holder of a mining claim has the right to access and occupy the claim for prospecting, exploring, developing and operating a mine, but the holder does not have any title to the surface rights of the land. Often there are competing interests from individuals, organizations or companies that may have a real, historic or perceived ownership to the surface rights of a mining claim. These interests must be dealt with by the holder of a mining claim throughout the process of development.

Further, each jurisdiction has identified competing ownership rights and acknowledges to varying degrees that surface right owners must be notified of the staking of a mining claim, intention to perform work, and in some circumstances provision of compensation. The timing and frequency of these notifications varies by jurisdiction and should be determined prior to staking or performing work on a claim.

Claim Maintenance

In order to hold mining land in any Canadian jurisdiction, yearly work commitments and/or fees must be made to the satisfaction of the provincial/territorial governments and to the Crown in the NWT and Nunavut. The timing, form and amounts of these commitments vary by jurisdiction and often are problematic for those unfamiliar with the various requirements.

For example, some jurisdictions allow the reporting of work to be submitted after the anniversary date of a mining claim whereas others require reporting to be completed no later than the anniversary date itself . Should the holder of a mining claim confuse jurisdictions, the results are obvious and forfeiture of the claim is guaranteed.

Eligibility of Work

In order to maintain mining claims in Canadian jurisdictions, the holder of the claim must provide the government with satisfactory proof that work was completed on the claim within the prescribed period. Both type of work and amounts must meet government scrutiny in order to renew the claim(s) for subsequent periods.

Types of work eligible for “credit” vary by jurisdiction and should be determined prior to submission of a work report. Generally, the following work types are acceptable for credit:

  • Prospecting;
  • Physical work such as stripping and trenching;
  • Surveys (Airborne, Geological, Geochemical, Geophysical);
  • Drilling; and,
  • Expenditures that support exploration activities, i.e. Administration, travel, etc.

One of the most common pitfalls when filing work for credit occurs under the final point noted above. Governments tend to be very stringent on what is considered to be acceptable administration work and travel costs associated with a claim. For example, travel costs to and from a claim may be available for credit in most jurisdictions, but only upon that portion of the cost associated within the jurisdiction. Flights originating outside the given province or territory may not be applied to maintaining the claim in that jurisdiction. As a general rule, the holder of a claim should not rely on these costs to maintain the claim.

Further, it should be noted that many governments ascribe to the maxim that work reports should advance the “geologic knowledge” of a claim, area or region. Work reports that do not meet this criterion may be subject to cuts, requests for revisions/clarification or, in the extreme, refusal. In this regard, it should be noted that in most jurisdictions, compilations, evaluations of previous work and reports of a similar historic nature are generally considered ineligible as work expenditures.

Credit Distribution

Credit distribution between adjacent or proximal claims, also known as grouping, is a common practice in most Canadian jurisdictions. Again, each government has established their own rules and regulations for credit distribution, and the local Mining Recorder should be contacted if there is any uncertainty as to the governing regulations and their application.