Skip Navigation

Quebec Establishes a Permitting Requirement for Mineral Exploration Work

April 22, 2024

Beginning on May 6, 2024, an authorization (ATI) from the Quebec ministry responsible for mines, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et des Forêts (MRNF), will be required before conducting impact-causing exploration work in Quebec. The requirement stems from amendments made to the Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural gas and brine (Regulation). 


The main purpose of this new requirement is to improve and streamline the regulatory process for Indigenous and community consultation and create a framework for social acceptability related to mineral exploration work. The changes are consistent with regimes in other provinces in Canada that require government approval of mineral exploration work, including a process for Indigenous consultation.

Before these changes, a proponent (i.e., a claim holder) had a right to perform exploration work without needing to obtain any permit from the MRNF, other than in the rare case of bulk sampling. As a result, certain mineral exploration work programs could be carried out without government approval. Where the nature and location of the work required government approval, such as environmental or forestry approval, other government departments were responsible for processing the approval application associated with exploration rights granted by the MRNF. This lack of a formal regulatory framework made the process for conducting Indigenous consultation uncertain and cumbersome. 

Exploration Work Subject to ATI

The following impact-causing exploration work is now subject to the new approval requirement: (1) work carried out using hydraulic machinery or explosives, in particular (a) excavating in overburden, (b) rock stripping, (c) bulk sampling, (d) overburden or bedrock drilling, or (e) seismic refraction geophysical surveys; or (2) work carried out using a hydraulic pump for gold mining purposes. The MRNF has indicated that an ATI is not required for low-impact on-site exploration work, exploration work on land covered by a mining concession or a mining lease, exploration within a tailings area, or underground exploration.

The MRNF will issue an ATI where a proponent satisfies the following conditions: (i) it has gathered and responded to the questions, requests and comments of the concerned municipalities and Indigenous communities; and (ii) it files a completed application form available here. The application form includes information required under the Regulation, in particular the identification of the zone of interest where the impact-causing exploration work will be carried out, the duration of the work, and a report on the exchanges with the applicable municipalities and Indigenous communities, as further described below.

Under the Mining Act (Quebec), the MRNF may impose conditions and obligations on the proponent related to the work to be carried out on the claim that take into consideration the local municipalities’ and Indigenous communities’ concerns about the exploration project.

Upon issuance, an ATI is valid for a term of two years and renewable for a 12-month period, subject to compliance with the conditions set forth in the Regulation. 

Zone of Interest

Under the Regulation, the application for an ATI must identify the land on which the impact-causing exploration work will be carried out, also known as the zone of interest. This information must be delineated by polygons in shapefile format and include the information set forth in Appendix 3 of the Promoter’s Guide for Authorization of Impact-Causing Exploration Work

The zone of interest may include principal and secondary targets so that the exploration program can be adjusted based on the results obtained without having to submit a new application for an ATI. However, the zone must not be too large, as it would risk hindering the project’s social acceptability among local municipalities and Indigenous communities. 

The information will be used by the MRNF to consult local municipalities that may be impacted and to fulfill its constitutional consultation obligations towards the Indigenous communities. 

It is important to note that the zone of interest cannot be amended once an ATI is issued. As a result, if there is a change, for example, in the size or type of work to be conducted in the applicable zone of interest, a new application must be submitted to obtain an ATI. 

Exchange Report

To obtain an ATI, a proponent is required to formally consult with Indigenous communities and local municipalities that will be impacted by the exploration work and present them with a detailed and sufficiently clear description of the intended work. It is the proponent’s responsibility to contact the local municipalities and the Indigenous communities concerned by the project in order to agree on the methods of communication and consultation. 

To determine the municipalities that are to be contacted, the MRNF recommends that a proponent consult the information available on the Gestion des titres miniers (GESTIM) interactive map. For information on the Indigenous community or communities that may be concerned by the authorization, proponents are encouraged to contact the MRNF for confirmation. 

Once consultation is completed, the application for an ATI must contain a report, similar to a consultation register, drafted in French. The report must identify the entities involved (e.g., the municipalities, regional county municipalities, Indigenous communities and others), the communication method(s) used, the date and location of the applicable exchange(s) and the nature of the applicable exchange(s). The report must also include a summary table of the exchanges setting forth the following: the questions, requests and comments raised by the local municipality and Indigenous communities; the answers provided by the proponent to the elements so raised; and any mitigation measures to be implemented by the proponent, where applicable.


The MRNF expects that by implementing a predictable framework for the consideration of concerns of local municipalities and Indigenous communities and for reconciling different uses of the territory, it will foster investment in mine development and provide for better control over impact-causing exploration work in the field.

For more information, please contact:

or any other member of our Mining group.