Mining and Minerals

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has a statutory authority and responsibilities with regard to mines and minerals as defined in legislation. Historically and geographically the mining regimes are separated as South of 60 and North of 60 as provincial, territorial and federal regulatory frameworks and mineral rights vary across the country.

South of 60

The Indian Act and the Indian Mining Regulations provide for disposition of reserve minerals. Some Federal-Provincial mineral agreements may affect the administration of minerals on First Nations reserve lands and the benefits from their disposition. The development of surface materials, such as sand and gravel is governed by policy and the Guidelines for Unconsolidated Non-Metallic Substances on Reserve Lands that offer direction for the taking, disposition and removal of such minerals, providing for informed decisions and planning strategies. In carrying out its fiduciary obligations INAC is generally providing a climate that enables First nations to develop and manage their own mineral resources by assisting them to maximize the benefits, ensuring prudent and safe mining management and promoting good environmental stewardship.

INAC and its regional offices assist the First Nations with developing the instruments used for mineral disposition in the form of permits and leases specifying the terms, conditions and legal contractual obligations for all parties. Regional summaries of the 1990 Mineral Resource Potential of Indian Reserve Lands report, as well as the national summary, explain the mineral potential on reserve lands in each province and territory.

For more information, please contact INAC's Public Inquiries Contact Centre.

North of 60

Crown lands in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are managed pursuant to the Territorial Lands Act and its related Regulations. In the northern territories sub-surface lands include hard-rock minerals, precious gems and coal. The rights to these materials are administered through the Nunavut Mining Regulation, the Northwest Territories Mining Regulations and the Territorial Coal Regulations. There is a distinction between sub-surface minerals and surface mineral substances that have specific purposes such as carving stone and building materials. These special use surface minerals are administered through the Territorial Quarry Regulations.

Starting from April 1, 2014, land and resource management responsibilities in the Northwest Territories will be devolved to the Government of the Northwest Territories. The new territorial mining regulations are expected to substantially mirror the federal mining regulations. However, the federal Northwest Territories Mining Regulations will continue to apply to certain specific parcels of lands in the Northwest Territories. These lands are listed in Schedule 4 of the Northwest Territories Devolution Agreement.

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