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NOAMI Definitions Provincial/Territorial Definitions

Feature-Based Definitions

The NOAMI feature-based classification system presented below is based upon the features present at each mineral site. The four class system was based on the scheme used by Ontario to classify sites in their AMIS (Abandoned Mines Information System). The Ontario classification work provided the typical type of features associated with mineral sites in each of the four classes. The NOAMI classification scheme used these typical features to place each mineral site from across Canada in one of the four classes.

In some jurisdictions their orphaned/abandoned sites were classified by their experts. In other jurisdictions the sites were classified by the NOAMI database compilers. The four feature-based classes range from 'A' (high risk) to 'D' (low risk). The estimates made by the NOAMI database compilers are denoted by the addition of an asterisks to the class designation (i.e. A*). When a site has been reviewed and the classification approved by a jurisdiction expert the asterisks is removed from the designation. A wide range of publicly available data sources are reviewed by the NOAMI database compilers to arrive at a classification, including exploration reports, government databases and high resolution imagery.

Class A or A*:

"A site with potential to cause environmental, public health and public safety concerns.”
  1. Site may have deep unprotected openings to surface such as shafts, raises and open stopes. Hazardous openings on surface, crown pillars, waste rock piles with ARD and radioactive concerns, dilapidated buildings such as head frames, mills, shops and dries can also be expected. Chemicals can include PCBs, asbestos, fuels, explosives and concentrates. Scrap metal and other debris will also likely be present.

  2. Site contains large tailings ponds which may or may not be contained. Former settling ponds also may be present.

Class B or B*:

"A site with limited potential to cause environmental concerns but with potential for public health and safety concerns.”
  1. Site may have deep unprotected openings to surface such as shafts, raises and open stopes. Hazardous openings on surface, crown pillars, waste rock piles with ARD and radioactive concerns, dilapidated buildings such as head frames, mills, shops and dries can also be expected. Chemicals can include PCBs, asbestos, fuels, explosives and concentrates. Scrap metal and other debris will also likely be present.

  2. Site may contain small tailings areas but these are of limited concern.

Class C or C*:

"A site with public safety concerns but little or no public health or environmental concerns.”
  1. Site contains hazardous openings to surface, waste rock piles and possible dilapidated structures associated with the mine openings.

  2. No tailings are present at the site.

Class D or D*:

"A site with no expected environmental, public health or public safety concerns.”
  1. Site contains minor surface features only such as trenches, test pits and stripping.

  2. No tailings are present at the site.

Class O:

"Information is not available.”

NOAMI Definitions

NOAMI Status Definitions

The suggested NOAMI database definitions presented below are designed to accommodate as many of the definitions used by the Canadian jurisdictions as possible or at least avoid any direct conflict. An attempt to avoid terms already in use in these jurisdictions and yet provide terms that may be directly correlated has been made. The inclusion of all mineral sites that are not active and not just those considered orphaned/abandoned allows all jurisdictions to place their mineral sites within the definitions without drawing any unwarranted conclusions about the site ownership.

*Note: The Interactive Maps and Search the Database sections of this website do not include Active Mineral Sites.

The following definitions describe the range of activity statuses which may occur at a site where minerals are explored for or mined. The relationship of these terms are illustrated in the above figure.

Mineral Site:

"A site on which some physical disturbance has occurred due to mineral exploration, mining or processing.”
  1. The word “mineral” is used to limit the definition to metallic, coal and industrial mineral commodities. Aggregate resources are not included in this definition as in most jurisdictions their ownership and utilization is handled in a significantly different manner than metallic, coal and industrial mineral commodities.
  2. The word “site” is used as being more specific than terms such as project and property which are not necessarily spatially limited to the area of disturbance. A site may contain many features or hazards.
Active Mineral Site:

“A site on which mineral exploration, mining or processing is ongoing with the proper regulatory approvals in place.”

  1. Active mineral exploration sites are those sites included in the approved work program of the current mineral tenure holder.
  2. Active mineral mining sites are those sites covered by the appropriate mining permissions.
  3. Active mineral processing sites are those sites involved in the ongoing process of beneficiating mine commodities.
Inactive Mineral Site:

“All mineral sites which are not considered active mineral sites.”

  1. Inactive sites may be inactive for many reasons including but not limited to:

    a. completion of the exploration, mining or processing project

    b. standby status of exploration, mining or processing project awaiting better market conditions

    c. loss of owner/operator capability for any number of reasons
Terminated Mineral Site:

“A former active mineral site at which mineral exploration, mining or processing has concluded and all current appropriate regulatory obligations have been satisfied.”

  1. The implication being that the site was reclaimed to the level required at the time of termination by the responsible jurisdiction authority.
Neglected Mineral Site:

“An inactive site that has not been terminated and that has no obvious owner.”

  1. Many neglected mineral sites are in existence due to changes in regulations that have imposed defined termination parameters after the mineral site became inactive.

  2. No ownership or site responsibility is implied in this definition.
Abandoned Mineral Site:

“A neglected mineral site that has not been terminated and that has no responsible owner.”

  1. Responsibility for the site reverts to the Crown either provincially or federally depending on the jurisdiction.

  2. Orphaned mineral site is synonymous with abandoned mineral site.

  3. This definition only applies to those sites which have been proven to have no responsible party other than the crown.

  4. Abandoned (Orphaned) mineral sites may be adopted by a responsible party other than the crown and become active mineral sites.
Legacy Mineral Site:

“A neglected mineral site that has not been terminated and that has an owner.”

  1. The responsible owner may or may not be aware of their ownership of the mineral site.

  2. A neglected mineral site usually becomes a legacy mineral site through detailed ownership investigation. It is possible that the owner was not aware of their ownership and on becoming aware of their ownership moves the mineral site into the care and maintenance or active category awaiting termination.

Provincial/Territorial Definitions

Alberta | British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Nova Scotia | Ontario | Saskatchewan



No definitions related to abandoned mines are included in the legislation or have been defined formally. Although not formally defined the term ‘Abandoned’ is used informally in the title of the Coal Mine Atlas and the term ‘Permitted Mine’ refers to any mine site for which a current mine permit exists.

CAL DATA report

ST-45 Coal Mine Atlas: Operating and Abandoned Coal Mines in Alberta

Coal was first excavated in Alberta during the late 1700s and early 1800s to fuel blacksmiths' forges at Fort Edmonton. In 1874, Nicholas Sheran opened the first commercial mine on the banks of the Oldman River in southern Alberta to supply coal to a local market. The westward expansion of the railway saw the opening of Alberta's first large-scale mine in 1882: the Galt Mine, located near Sheran's original workings. Since that time, more than 2000 mines have operated in the province, producing over 1 billion tonnes of coal. At present, there are 28 permitted mines in the province, with only 11 of these currently producing coal. The term "permitted mine" refers to any mine site for which a current mine permit exists.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) first published the Coal Mine Atlas in 1985 to serve primarily as a guide for identifying the areas in the province where mining has occurred. More detailed information can be obtained from actual mine plans, some of which may be viewed at EUB Information Services (403-297-8190). The publication of this atlas (2001-45) updates the third edition (94-45), the second edition (88-45), and the 1992 supplement (93-45A).

Department: Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board


British Columbia


Abandoned mine: means a mine for which all permit obligations under this Act have been satisfied and in respect of which the mineral claims have reverted to the government. Closed mine: means a mine at which all mining activities have ceased but in respect of which the owner, agent, manager or permittee remains responsible for compliance with this Act, the regulations, the code and that person's obligations under the permit for that mine.

Source: British Columbia Mines Act [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 293

Historic mine site: a place where mechanical disturbance of the ground or any excavation has been made to produce coal, mineral bearing substances, placer minerals, rock, sand or gravel, or other mined materials, including sites used for processing, concentrating, and waste disposal, and where a Mines Act permit does not exist for the mine site.

Historic Mines of British Columbia (BCMEMPR Open File 2003-03)

Historic Mine Sites Database

The Historic Mine Sites Database was built using Microsoft Access as the platform and was designed to incorporate geological, geochemical, geotechnical and administrative information for each site. The strength of the database is the ability of the user to input a wide range of data sources and the ease at which detailed queries can be performed. The primary purpose of the database is to house an inventory of historic mine sites containing technical information, which characterizes sites. A secondary purpose of the database is to collect technical data on operating mines, which have been permitted by the Ministry to assist in regulatory functions. The database is currently a ‘work in progress’ as it is still being tested, amended and updated.




"Abandoned" means, in relation to a mine, a mine in respect of which the right to mine has been forfeited, cancelled, revoked or otherwise terminated

Source: THE WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT (C.C.S.M. c. W210), Operation of Mines Regulation 228/94, Registered December 2, 1994.

Orphaned or abandoned (O/A) mines are mines for which the owner cannot be found or is financially unable or unwilling to carry out site rehabilitation.

Source: Manitoba, Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Mineral Resources, Mines (Regulatory)

Database Name:
Manitoba Mining thru the Centuries (various databases)

Over the last 100 years, mining has helped build and expand communities across Manitoba and continues to play a significant role in the economic well-being of many communities, particularly in the north. Mining currently contributes over $2 billion annually in mineral production to the provincial economy.Today’s mining practices and regulations ensure that mines are operated and closed in an environmentally sound manner; however, many communities across Canada, including Manitoba, are dealing with the legacy of mines that were abandoned decades ago and continue to pose health and safety problems.

Manitoba, Growth, Enterprise and Trade


New Brunswick


Abandoned Mine: Means an inactive mine site or mineral exploration site where there are no active mining claims or lease and where the mining company responsible for the mining no longer exists or cannot be found.

Source: New Brunswick Abandoned Mine Sites Policy (Policy Number: MRE 006 2004, C. R. File Number: 565 00 0002, Effective Date: September 1, 2004, To Be Reviewed: September 1, 2008, Approval: Original signed by W. David Ferguson, Deputy Minister, September 1, 2004.)

New Brunswick Mineral History Database

New Brunswick maintans an on-going inventory and database that includes known abandoned mines located on Crown lands and private lands.

Department: New Brunswick Energy and Resource Development, Energy and Mines


Nova Scotia


Abandoned mine: No formal definition but the term is used to indicate mine openings that are no longer active. Ownership is not part of this definition as about 75% of the abandoned mines are on private land.

Source: CAL DATA report

Database Name:
Nova Scotia Abandoned Mine Openings

This digital product is developed from a database of published abandoned mine openings for the province of Nova Scotia. The database is maintained by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR), Mineral Resources Branch (MRB). The digital product was created by the NSDNR MRB staff. The database provides approximate coordinate locations for many of the abandoned mine openings, and also provides a source reference on each mine opening.

Department: Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources




The following are “working” definitions not defined by Statute or Regulation. Abandoned mines: those which had ceased production and closed prior to Part VII of Ontario’s Mining Act coming into effect. They are described as where mining or milling has ceased, but where the site has not been rehabilitated. Abandoned: is a site where a proponent has ceased or suspended indefinitely advanced exploration, mining, or mine production on the site, without rehabilitating the site. Orphaned mine: has been used by some to describe sites without an owner. They use the term orphaned on an informal basis if the owner can not be found or the site has reverted to the crown.

Source: CAL DATA report

Abandoned Mines Information System Database; Abandoned Mine Features (AMIS)

AMIS is a database containing basic information on all known abandoned and inactive mine sites located on both Crown and privately held lands within the province of Ontario.

Department: Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Mines and Minerals




Abandoned Site: A site at which the operator has unilaterally rejected custodial responsibility for ongoing reclamation or remediation. This can be voluntary, or involuntary as in the case of bankruptcy.
Orphaned Site: An abandoned mine site for which a responsible party (custodian) can no longer be located or does not exist.
Closed Site: A site at which all decommissioning, reclamation measures and transition phase monitoring have been completed to the satisfaction of the succeeding custodian.

Source: Institutional Control Program

Department: Saskatchewan Business - Agriculture, Natural Resources and Industry, Mineral Exploration and Mining

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© National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Initiative (NOAMI) 2004