Prospectors split on online map staking system launched by province this week

The province's new web-based map staking system, called CLAIMaps, means anyone with a prospector’s licence can reserve exploration rights for an area, from the comfort of their own home.

Ontario's new online map staking system for prospectors launched Tuesday.

Over 14,000 online claims were staked within the first 48 hours of the launching of the province's new system, CLAIMaps, according to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The province's new online map staking system was launched this week.

It means prospectors don't have to venture into the bush to claim ground for mineral exploration.

More than 14,000 online claims have been staked since the province's new system, CLAIMaps, was launched Tuesday morning, according to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

'Tremendous' change

Hermann Daxl has been a prospector for more than 20 years.

The 77-year-old retired geologist was formerly skeptical about map staking.

He's since become a convert.

"It's actually tremendous. It's really something good that needed to be done," says Daxl.

Daxl says prospectors who truly know the land still have a huge advantage over big companies making speculative claims.

"Experience shows that big companies are very poor in choosing ground," notes Daxl. "Staking a claim just gives you the right to explore. It doesn't give you anything [else]. If you want to sell the claim to a company, you still have to prove to them that it's worth something."

Far from ideal

But Eric Marion, who has been prospecting for over 25 years, doesn't agree.

He says data about topography and boundaries is presented in a way that makes the new system almost unusable.

"If they would have put it in the hands of the industry, the ones who use it, I think we could have came up with a better system," says Marion. "All these glitches that we're having now were brought to their attention over the past four or five years and they never listened."

This screen capture shows the Greater Sudbury area separated into cells on the province's new online map staking system, CLAIMaps. (CLAIMaps/Ministry of Northern Development and Mines)

Marion says his costs as a small prospector have already doubled since the province started the claim conversion process a few months ago.

"I used to be able to go in the bush and stake 16 claims for $60; online it costs $800 now. Small guys are just getting raked over the coals on these costs. That's $800 of [soil] samples I won't be able to do," explains Marion.

Though he feels strongly about the way the system has been implemented, he says he knows it's the way of the future.

"When I'm old and in a wheelchair, [at least] I'll still be able to make a claim," he says with a chuckle.

Hearing the feedback

Roy Denomme of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines says the first week of the launch went by shockingly smoothly.

He admits the system isn't perfect.

Roy Denomme is the director of mining act modernization for Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. (Roy Denomme/LinkedIn)

"We've already got feedback from clients that say, 'Jeez, this is great, however, if you just had this and this and this.' So we're starting to document that," says Denomme, adding changes could be made based on the feedback received.

He notes speculative claims haven't been an issue so far.

"Companies don't have infinite amount of dollars for exploration and development, so they do use them wisely," says Denomee. "Another concern was that somebody like China is going to come in and stake the whole province. Well, clearly, that didn't happen on Tuesday."

The massive number of claims registered on Tuesday came after an industry wide three-month hiatus on staking claims was lifted.

"When you look at the statistics from the first two days, really it's a who's-who of the regular Ontario mining exploration group," says Denomee.

About the Author

Benjamin Aubé

Reporter

Benjamin Aubé is a journalist based out of Sudbury. If you have a story you'd like to share, email him at benjamin.aube@cbc.ca