Advancing Exploration

Exploration Zones

What is being proposed?

The Bill empowers the territorial government to institute special zones on public lands to facilitate mineral exploration in the Northwest Territories.

Zones can be identified by the Minister or by Indigenous governments and organizations. Either way, a zone could only be established after appropriate engagement with Indigenous governments with a settlement or traditional territory in the proposed zone.

These areas would have more favourable terms for acquiring Mineral Claims or Mineral Leases than might otherwise be allowed. However, standards and requirements set through other legislation would still need to be met.

How will this be done?

The Minister will have the discretion to set these zones by regulation. Each zone could have its own.

Departmental staff from the Mining Recorder’s Office would need to define that land and administer the different rules for Mineral Claims or Leases in that area accordingly.

The exact measures which will make these areas more favourable for those holding Mineral Claims or Mineral Leases will be set out in the specific regulations. Indigenous governments and organizations would be engaged, and all stakeholders would be kept up-to-date on these measures as they would be developed.


The Northwest Territories still holds a great deal of wide open, mineral-rich spaces which are extraordinarily difficult to reach compared to other parts of the world.

Due to the remoteness of some areas of the NWT, these kinds of exploration zones could level the playing field to encourage exploration to take place in regions where it could otherwise be prohibitive to do so.

It would also open the door for Indigenous governments and organizations to request that incentive zones be set up —giving Indigenous governments and organizations the ability to decide on areas they are comfortable seeing mineral development and encourage investment in these zones.

Prospecting Zones

What is being proposed?

The Bill empowers the Minister to allow exclusive rights to prospect within given areas if requirements are met under the regulations.

How will this be done?

Currently, there is a similar practice enabled under the Mining Regulations known as Prospecting Permits.

An individual or company with a valid prospector’s licence can apply for a prospecting permit between February 1st and the close of business on the last business day of November before the year in which the permit is to commence (the year it is issued).

If the application is approved, it will come into effect on February 1st - in the year it is issued. A Prospecting Permit will allow you to prospect in an area covered by the permit, without competition for a period of three or five years, depending on the area.

A similar system will be put in place under this Act. 

However, this structure may change as practices around Mineral Claims and Mineral Leases change — for example, with the institution of Online Map Staking — or if a more desirable structure is identified.

Indigenous governments and organizations will be engaged, and stakeholders will be kept up-to- date on this.


These kinds of measures are designed to increase certainty for those taking part in mineral exploration in the NWT.

By providing the ability to allow mineral explorers to prospect in areas without competition, it prevents conflict and allows for Mineral Claims or Mineral Leases to be defined with more information.