Deadline approaching for Ontario prospectors to make switch to map staking

A deadline is fast approaching for Ontario prospectors to physically stake claims, as the province moves to map staking.

Prospectors will not be able to stake claims until online system is implemented in April

As of January 9, prospectors will not be able to stake mining claims until a new online system is fully functional in April.

A deadline is fast approaching that will completely change the way Ontario prospectors do business.

In April, the province is rolling in a new Mining Lands Administration System that will see prospectors stake their claims online, instead of on the ground.

As of Jan. 9, no new claims will be filed until the online system is fully functional.

Gino Chitaroni, the president of the Northern Prospectors Association, based in Cobalt, Ont. says there's a push to physically stake a claim before the deadline.

"Everything's frozen for about four months," he explained.

"If you've got something that's hot, you want to get it now. You don't want to wait because … once you go to map-staking, anybody can get it. My prediction is it's going to be hard on the prospecting community to survive."

Jessica Bjorkman, vice-president of the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association, says staking claims online will change how prospectors work. She says a number of prospectors in northern Ontario will be venturing out to stake claims as a symbolic gesture.

Jessica Bjorkman is the vice-president of the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association. (Supplied/nwopa.net)

"It's the end of a very long era of going out with an axe and claiming the group that way," she said.

"It's more just a way of looking back and a cool memory."

Impact on local prospectors

Still, Bjorkman says prospectors remain unsure about the changes to the mining claim system.

"My biggest concern as a prospector is that they don't make the price per claim too high," she said.

"The whole reason why prospectors are able to be in the game is because we go out and we use our own hard work to get a claim and then record it for a very small fee. In the future, it will be a much higher fee to make a claim and everyone will be paying that same fee."

Chitaroni says he thinks the changes will help big businesses more than local prospectors.

"It's a big benefit for senior companies [and] it's a big benefit for well-heeled junior companies," he said.

"It will benefit everybody who sits in Toronto and Vancouver in their offices and it won't really help the local prospector."

With files from Benjamin Aubé

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