Posted April 11, 2005
| Free Minerís Certificate  | Mineral Tenure Act |  Mining Right of Way Act | Health, Safety & Reclamation Code for Mines in BC | Surface Use-Prospectors | Land Act |

Mining and Property Rights Clarified

Factual information is important as the first step in decision-making, however perception, emotion, political opinion and misinformation often cloud these facts.  The following is intended to provide the public with some factual information regarding mining issues.

Mining, like all other activities including ranching, forestry and rural and urban living, can and does exist and co-exist within the watersheds of this province.  Existing laws, regulations, procedures and policies are in place to ensure public health and safety, protection of environmental standards and the rights of property owners.

In British Columbia, undersurface rights are distinct and separate from surface land.  Private land owners hold title to the surface of the land only, not the natural resources that lie beneath.  In most cases, the undersurface mineral rights are controlled by the crown and can be acquired by any individual or company who holds a valid Free Minerís Certificate.  A Free Minerís Certificate authorizes an individual to enter onto private property for the purpose of exploring for minerals, although it is common courtesy for the individual to gain permission from surface owners before entering privately held surface land. 

 Both the surface and undersurface owners have a legitimate claim to their component of the ground and the rights of both must be respected.  Laws exist to uphold and protect these rights and there are a number of safeguards in place to ensure responsible actions from all parties. Prior to any mechanized disturbance on a mining claim, the claim owner must submit to the government a plan of proposed work, demonstrating responsible exploration and mining procedures. If acceptable, a permit will be granted. The permit holder may not diverge from their submitted plan without government approval. Where private land is involved, a work permit will not be issued until the surface owner has been  notified of the proposed work and has had the opportunity to express any concerns.  Upon completion of the permitted work program, all lands must be reclaimed.  In order to ensure adequate money for appropriate reclamation, before a permit will be granted the operator must post a reclamation bond.

Private land owners have the right to compensation for use of their surface land for exploration or mining purposes.  The surface and undersurface owners may negotiate their own agreement and can agree on any condition and any amount of compensation for use of the surface of the land, to access the undersurface minerals.   These negotiated settlements can and should be to the benefit of both parties.   In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, either party may apply to the regional Gold Commissioner to assist in the process.   Ultimately, if a settlement cannot be reached, then a process of arbitration is entered, to ensure that the rights of both parties are protected and respected.

Mining is a strong component of a growing B.C. economy.  The Boundary has historically been a mining based area, and mining continues to be an important economic contributor to the region.  Education, open-mindedness, mutual respect, co-operation and environmentally responsible exploration and mining will significantly benefit the socio-economic needs of all of us.  

Links for source documents relevant to this article 

 Free Minerís Certificate  | Mineral Tenure Act |  Mining Right of Way Act | Health, Safety & Reclamation Code for Mines in BC | Surface Use-Prospectors | Land Act |



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