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Time to end archaic Free Entry Mining laws in Yukon

  • Published on Feb 21 2008 |
  • This article is tagged as: boreal-forest

The free entry system of granting mineral tenure was developed back in the Gold Rush days of the 1850s when governments were trying to encourage people to develop and “tame” the wilderness. The underlying philosophy of this frontier mentality was that mining was the best use of Crown land. Public attitudes and mining technologies have changed, yet the archaic law remains.

What is Free Entry Mining?

Free entry mining is the dominant way that mineral tenures are granted in Canada, including in the Yukon. Under this system, a miner stakes a claim and pays a minimal annual fee to obtain unlimited access to explore for minerals on the land. In the Yukon a miner does not require a license to prospect in order to stake a claim. Any person over the age of 18 has the right under the Yukon Quartz Mining Act (QMA) to enter and access private or public lands that may contain minerals and stake a claim, except:

  • Private lands where the mineral rights are not owned by the Crown. For instance, First Nations’ Category A Settlement Lands are off-limits as the First Nation owns the subsurface mineral rights on these lands. However, Category B Settlement Lands are not off limits, nor are most private properties in the Yukon. Generally property owners hold title to the property but the Crown retains subsurface rights, as residents in Spruce Hill, a rural country residential subdivision of Whitehorse, found out a few years ago when their backyards were staked.
  • The following specific lands, outlined in the Quartz Mining Act, Section 14(1): land occupied by buildings, land within the immediate area of a dwelling-house, land valuable for water-power purposes, land under cultivation, churches and cemeteries, and land already lawfully occupied for mining purposes.
  • Areas where subsurface rights have been legally withdrawn by ministerial order (e.g. for park creation).

Read the full article at CPAWS Yukon