Placer Mining in BC

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Private Land

Using Private Land and Crown Land Leases

I am not an expert on mining law - I am just trying to help. Use the information in this website at your own risk. See the Notice at the bottom of this page.
If you have a Free Miner Certificate, you can use and/or cross private land for mining purposes. There are many rules, including limits on where you can go.

The same rules apply to Crown Land Leases. On this page, "private land" means both.

The simple approach is to stay off private land. This works in much of the Cariboo and Omineca, but not along parts of the Fraser River.

To see private land on MTO maps, see the Private Land section of the Making Maps page.

The Basics

You can get a claim on private land. You can, with exceptions, use private land to... You must give notice to the owner at least 8 days before entering private land, and pay compensation for any loss or damage.

Notice may be given by mail, email, fax or hand-delivered to the owner. More information and the correct form to use are available on the government's Landowner Notification page.

It seems that you don't need the landowner's consent, but if the owner objects, you can't enter the land until you make an agreement.

Exceptions to the Right to Enter

The right to enter private land does not include...

Private Land and Mineral Rights

It is rare, but if you discover that a piece of private land has the placer mineral rights, it means that you can't get a claim on it. If the owner tells you that the land has the mineral rights and it matters to you, it is usually best to turn the problem over to the right kind of land expert.

Finding the Landowner

I am not a private land expert, but I believe...

In most cases, you can find the owner of private land by...

  1. Get the District and District Lot Number from the government's MTO Mapping System
  2. Have a Land Titles search done

Getting the District/Lot Number

Open up the MTO Mapping System and zoom in to your area of interest.

The two map-layers we care about are:
    Land Act Survey Parcels - Tantalis - Legal Descriptions
    Land Act Survey Parcels - Tantalis - Outlines
These layers are in the third layer group:     Crown Land Layers - Tantalis.

If these layers have been turned off, they must be turned back on. The map must be zoomed in enough to see the light grey Survey Parcel outlines.

Turn on Identify Features - click the white "i" in a circle on the horizontal blue bar at the top-left of the map. You can select which layer to use - you want the layer:
Land Act Survey Parcels - Tantalis - Legal Descriptions".

You can click on the map in the private property (a survey parcel). Information will be displayed to the right of the map. If you run the mouse-cursor down this list to the right, it will highlight the property. (There may be a larger block that contains the property; it can generally be ignored.)

Click on the down arrow/triangle beside the number for the survey parcel and information about the parcel will be displayed. You want the Parcel Legal Description, which might look like...


For more information, you can click on the link near the top of the info about a parcel, you can get a variety of information, possibly including...

Land Title Search

Given a PID or the District Lot number and district, you can have a search done for the owner of the surface-rights - the landowner. There are various ways...

Giving Notice to the Land Owner

You can use the LANDOWNER NOTIFICATION form (PDF). In any case, the Notice must include your contact information and a description of what you intend to do.

The rules are set up to give the owner time to object, and then make an agreement, without anyone starting a lawsuit.

If the landowner objects, steps are followed until you get an agreement...

  1. The owner contacts you and you try to make an agreement.
  2. You or the owner can ask the Mineral Titles to help you make an agreement by contacting or 1-866-616-4999.
  3. If this doesn't work, you or the owner can apply to the Surface Rights Board and they will try to help, and if necessary, they will make an agreement that you and the owner have to follow.
If you legally use private land for a right of way (ex. to build a road or setup a conveyor belt) without the owner's consent, the Expropriation Act applies. It will take some time for the government to come up with an agreement that applies to you and the land owner, and you will have to pay the owner for the use of the land.

If You Cannot Give Notice

If it is impossible to give notice to the landowner, you can use this form to apply for an exemption to the rules about giving notice...


Learning the Details

There are many rules that come from many laws and documents. The links below help by providing both summaries and many details that you need if you are going to enter private land.

Information Update No. 7 - A Guide to Surface and Subsurface Rights and Responsibilities in British Columbia (PDF) is about the whole process for you and the landowner

Information Update No. 29b - Notice Requirements for Mining Activities on Private Land and Land Act Leases (PDF) is about giving notice, what to do if you can't, online tools to find private land and owners, and applying costs to the work required to renew your claim

Landowner Notification page has another good summary about entering private land, plus links to an FAQ, how to find out who owns land, some online tools, and the two forms to do with giving notice - for the forms, see the links at the bottom of this page.

Mining Right of Way Act is about using existing roads and build roads on private land


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