Regulation of Mineral Resources in the Northwest Territories

Mining Regulations

Picture of tents lined up in camp.The mineral industry is the largest contributor to the Northwest Territories (NWT) economy. The territory is rich in mineral resources and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) is responsible for the administration of mineral exploration activities on public lands. ITI promotes economic self-sufficiency through the responsible management and development of NWT minerals to create a prosperous, diverse and sustainable economy.  Public lands in the NWT are managed pursuant to the Northwest Territories Lands Act and its related Regulations. The rights to sub-surface materials are administered through the Mining Regulations, the Coal Regulations and the Dredging Regulations. Quarrying activities for extracting granular material are regulated by the Department of Lands and require Quarrying Permits and Leases.

Exploration Authorization Process

limestone and shale with rock hammerWhen a proponent seeks permission to conduct mineral exploration in the Northwest Territories, there is a logical sequence of authorizations to be obtained, as follows:

  • First, a Licence to Prospect must be applied for, as it is required for both the Mineral Claim and Mineral Lease.
  • Next, a Mineral Claim can be staked and recorded once the Licence to Prospect has been obtained.
  • Finally, a Mineral Lease can be applied for once both the Licence to Prospect and Mineral Claim have been obtained and requirements under the Mining Regulations have been met.

Mining Recorder's Office

Post showing claim marker.The Mining Recorder’s Office (MRO) administers the sub-surface rights and mineral tenures, and issues prospector's licences, prospecting permits, minerals claims, claim tags, claim maps, and minerals leases. Mineral rights records and mineral disposition reports are also available at the MRO. A plain language summary of the Mining Regulation Requirements for Prospector Licences and Permits, and Mineral Claims and Leases is available.  Mining Royalties are paid by the owner or operator of a mine to compensate for natural resources that are extracted. The payment formula can be found in the Mining Regulations. All provinces and territories with significant mining activities impose mining taxes and/or mining royalties on mining operations within their jurisdictions.  The Mineral Tenure Map Viewer can be used to explore mineral tenure and pertinent map information managed by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

District Geologists

Karen Gochnauer, District Geologist. Credit: NTGS.

The District Geologists work at the Northwest Territories Geological Survey and provide support to the Mining Recorder through the evaluation of mineral exploration assessment reports and other technical submissions. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Mining Regulations for NWT lands. In addition the geologists conduct independent research, compile annual summaries of mineral exploration in the Exploration Overview, and provide advice on geology, mineral deposits and mining regulations.  Site visits to mineral exploration properties are also conducted. These visits are meant to confirm and support the evaluation of assessment work, but the District Geologist can provide information and advice to the property owners at this time.