Mineral Collecting

The ministry is in the process of reviewing and updating its policies to reflect recent changes to the Mining Act as they relate to the implementation of online mining claim registration and an electronic Mining Lands Administration System (MLAS). Until further notice, visitors should consider this content to be in transition and subject to modifications.

Policy: L.P. 701-1

Date Issued: March 25, 2011


As stewards of minerals in the province, the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines recognizes hobby mineral collecting for its recreational and educational benefits to the public as a whole. Therefore the Ministry allows mineral collecting under conditions specified in this policy.


Mineral collecting in Ontario is a privilege offered by the Province and is not a right. Hobby mineral collectors have no legal right to collect or extract minerals on Crown land or on land where title, an interest or right is held by a person or company, who is not the mineral collector.

Types of Mineral Collecting

There are two types of mineral collecting recognized by the Crown: hobby mineral collecting, and large scale/commercial mineral collecting. The two types of mineral collecting are distinguished on the basis of a threshold limit, which is explained in the definition section of this policy.

Legal Requirement

The Mining Act makes it clear that minerals cannot be extracted or removed without a lease of the mining rights, and compliance with the provisions of Part VII of the Act. Extraction can also be authorized in some cases by the Aggregate Resources Act. However, there is no specific authorization to remove minerals as part of a hobby collection.

Hobby Collecting

Hobby mineral collecting is allowed to the threshold limit, where both surface and mining rights are owned by the Crown and open to mineral collecting.

The requirements, of the Mining Act and the Aggregate Resources Act, will generally not be enforced against hobby mineral collecting.


Since hobby mineral collecting is a privilege, it must not conflict with other legitimate uses and users of the same land. The mineral collector is not allowed to trespass on privately owned land, nor on Crown land where there are unsafe or hazardous conditions. Collectors are advised to obtain or consult a claim map to determine land status.

All the laws regarding environmental protection which would be applicable to a prospector's licence holder, or other persons using the land, are applicable to hobby mineral collectors.

Large Scale or Commercial Collecting

This will be done according to the provisions of the Mining Act or the Aggregate Resources Act, where applicable. Provisions of the Public Lands Act will be enforced where applicable.

Large scale/commercial collectors must obtain a lease or aggregate permit.

Mineral Collecting where Other's Rights Exist

The following are examples of interests with existing rights; therefore, permission is required for hobby collecting:

Permission Required

The person intending to do hobby mineral collecting on land where there is a land owner, must first obtain permission from the person or company with the existing right. Such permission should be in writing to protect both parties.

The onus of finding out the status of the land (if a right exists) is on the mineral collector.

Different types of grants and interests in land exist, and more than one can exist on the same parcel of land. Typical of the status of land or existing right for which a mineral collector requires permission are listed below:

  1. Privately Held Surface Rights: Where the mining rights only are owned by the Crown, hobby mineral collecting is allowed to the threshold limit, contingent on the surface rights owner's permission. The person intending to collect must follow any terms and conditions established by the person or company with the existing right. These may include restrictive conditions on extraction methods. Examples - lease or patent for surface rights only; land use permit.
  2. Privately Held Mineral Rights: Where the surface rights only are held or reserved to the Crown, the person intending to do the hobby mineral collecting must first obtain permission from the holder of the mining rights. The Crown cannot establish amounts of mineral that can be extracted, because the mining rights for this type of land have been granted or otherwise disposed of. The owner of the mining rights determines the amounts, terms and conditions of any mineral collecting activities. This may include charging for extracting the minerals. The owner of the mining rights will be responsible for meeting all the legislative requirements for mineral extraction. Examples - mining rights only unpatented mining claims; leased and patented mining rights; permits and licences issued under the Aggregate Resources Act. This does not exempt the collector from other requirements under other sections or Acts.
  3. Surface Rights and Mining Rights Held Separately: Permission must be obtained from both holders in cases where the surface rights and mineral rights are held by two different parties
  4. Mining Rights Only Held: The mineral collector needs the permission of the mining rights holder to take mineral sample(s).
  5. Mining and Surface Rights Held: The mineral collector requires the permission of the mining and surface rights holder to enter the land and take mineral sample(s). The mineral collector requires permission of both the mining rights holder and the surface rights holder, when they are not the same party.
  6. Surface Rights Only Held: The mineral collector must obtain, from the surface rights holder, permission to enter on the land; however, the Crown mining rights must also be open to mineral collecting.
  7. Crown Land: By policy, Crown land is open to mineral collecting, with certain exceptions described below.

Lands Not Open for Mineral Collecting

Some lands are not open for mineral collecting. Usually, other activities are also restricted on this type of land. Typically these lands can be related to land not open to staking. The following are examples of lands that are not open for mineral collecting:

Note: For the purpose of this policy, both the terms gold panning and fossil collecting are interchangeable with term mineral collecting. Therefore, gold panning and fossil collecting are subject to this policy.

Collecting Minerals by Institutions

Collecting minerals by institutions for educational purposes, for displays at museums or other public places as well as for use in scientific research are also subject to this policy.


The definitions in section 1 of the Mining Act for minerals, mining claim, mining lands, and mining rights, patent, and surface rights apply to this policy.

Threshold Limit
What one person can excavate with hand tools only and can carry unassisted, from a specific site or location. The limit is allowed once per year per site.
Hobby Mineral Collecting
  • collection for personal pleasure, recreation, or interest, and
  • the amount collected is below the threshold limit, and
  • the samples are collected for the collector's personal collection, and
  • The collector has no intention to sell the minerals collected. Swapping minerals collected as part of hobby collecting is acceptable. This recognizes that swapping is part of a personal collection.
Large Scale Mineral Collecting (Commercial Collecting)
  • mineral collecting or extraction of minerals with the intention of selling, or
  • the amount of mineral collected is above the threshold limit, or
  • the collection is done with the use of mechanical equipment: plunger, dynamite, backhoe, mechanical or power equipment.

Where to Find Information

  1. Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
    • Mining Lands Consultants: Mining land consultants can help you access up-to-date claim maps on the internet. These maps show the status of mining lands in their mining division.
    • Internet: These maps can be printed from the internet at CLAIMaps or purchased from OGS Publication Sales Office in Sudbury, Ontario. The CLAIMS Client Services database can provide you with the name
      of the holder of an unpatented mining claim. This information is available on the Mining Claims Information (MCI) web site.
    • Resident and District Geologists: Resident and District Geologists can advise collectors about mineral collecting sites in their districts, including areas that are considered hazardous. They can also advise about publications on mineral collecting.
  2. Ministry of Natural Resources
  3. District Managers: District Managers can provide information on quarry permits, quarry licences, land use permits, licences of occupation and land use permits that have been issued by their ministry. They can give advice about other issues regarding public lands.
  4. Land Registry Offices: For the names of the leaseholders or patent owners, the mineral collector should go the appropriate Land Registry Office.

Glossary of Terms

The following terms of references are obtained from Section 1 the Mining Act.

Crown in right of Ontario.
When referring to the holder of an unpatented mining claim or a licence of occupation issued under the Mining Act, means the holder of record.
All naturally occurring metallic and non metallic minerals, including coal, salt, quarry and pit material, gold, silver and all rare and precious minerals and metals, but does not include sand, gravel, peat, gas or oil.
Mining Claim
A parcel of land, including land under water, which has been staked and recorded in accordance with the Mining Act and the regulations.
Mining Lands
Includes the lands and mining rights patented or leased under or by authority of a statute, regulation, or order in council, respecting mines, minerals or mining, and also lands or mining rights located, staked out, used or intended to be used for mining purposes.
Mining Rights
The right to minerals on, in or under any land.
A grant from the Crown in fee simple or for a less estate made under the Great Seal.
Surface Rights
Every right in lands; other than mining rights.
When referring to land or mining rights, means land or mining rights for which a patent, lease, licence of occupation or any other form of Crown grant is not in effect.