Mineral collecting - or rockhounding, in Ontario.

Mineral Collecting in Ontario Geologists divide Ontario into three geological areas called provinces Superior Province, Southern Province, Grenville Province.

The province boasts a vibrant community of mineral hobbyists with a variety of mineral clubs located in cities and towns across Ontario. Many of these clubs host annual gem and mineral shows that give collectors a chance to gather, exchange ideas and swap samples. Ontario also provides a wealth of geological settings.

Geologists divide Ontario into three geological areas called provinces. Each contains a variety of rock types of similar age. The geological provinces - Superior, Southern and Grenville - together make up the Canadian Shield and provide mineral collecting opportunities that range from the complex, mineral-rich Grenville Province in the southeast to the volcanics of the Superior Province in the northwest.

Many of the best collecting sites are located in popular recreation spots, where pristine lakes, the call of the loons, quiet and clean beaches, campfires and rockhound hikes through the woods meld to create a memorable vacation.

To provide a safe, enjoyable rockhounding vacation, Ontario has developed a Mineral Collecting Policy that recognizes the special needs of hobby collectors. It sets out the conditions under which rockhounds may collect minerals on Crown land; specifies the obligations of rockhounds to the owners of private surface and mineral rights; differentiates between hobby collectors and commercial mineral collectors; and outlines some areas where mineral collecting is not permitted.

The policy also reminds rockhounds that mineral collecting is a privilege rather than a right in Ontario. Respect for the environment, other land users, fellow collectors and your own safety is a key ingredient in this exciting and educational activity.

What is Mineral Collecting?

Ontario recognizes two kinds of mineral collectors -- hobby mineral collectors and large scale/commercial mineral collectors. The difference between the two is the amount of rock each takes home at the end of the day. This is known as the threshold limit.

The threshold limit between hobby and large-scale collecting is defined as the amount one person can excavate using only hand tools and can carry unassisted from a specific site or location. The limit is allowed once per year per site.

Hobby mineral collecting means:

    • Collection for personal pleasure, recreation or interest.
    • The amount collected is below a specified threshold.
    • The samples collected are for the collector's personal collection. This includes rocks or minerals collected to swap.
    • The collector has no intention of selling the minerals he or she has collected. If you dig out your samples with hand tools and carry them home unassisted, you are probably a hobby collector.

Large-scale or commercial mineral collecting means:

    • Mineral collecting or extraction of minerals with the intention of selling; or
    • The amount of mineral collected is above the threshold limit; or
    • The collection is done with explosives or mechanical equipment such as pluggers, a backhoe or other heavy equipment.

Recreational gold panning and fossil collecting are considered mineral collecting and are covered by the mineral collecting policy, as is collecting by institutions for educational and scientific use.

Who Can be a Hobby Mineral Collector?

Hobby mineral collectors are defined as amateur mineralogists who enjoy collecting interesting rocks and minerals. Anyone can be a hobby mineral collector in Ontario. You do not need a special licence or a permit. You do, however, need to know about the regulations governing the use of Ontario's mining lands and mineral rights.

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is the steward of Ontario's minerals and mining lands. It administers mining lands and gathers geological information that helps prospectors locate economic mineral deposits. It operates under the Mining Act of Ontario, which governs mineral exploration, mineral development and mine rehabilitation in the province. Although the Ministry deals primarily with professional prospectors and mineral explorationists, it recognizes the recreational and educational benefits of hobby mineral collecting. Therefore, it has developed a mineral collecting policy that allows mineral collectors to enjoy their hobby throughout the province.

Mineral collecting is still a privilege, however, rather than a right. Mineral collectors must observe conditions specified in the policy. They are responsible for collecting specimens safely and properly. Like other land users, mineral collectors must respect the environment and observe sound field practices. Mineral collecting activities must not conflict with other legitimate uses and users of the same land.

Code of Ethics

    • I will respect both private and public property, and will do no collecting on privately
      owned land without the owner's permission.
    • I will keep informed of all laws, rules, and regulations governing collecting on public
      lands, and will observe them.
    • I will, to the best of my ability, ascertain the boundary lines of property on which I plan
      to collect.
    • I will use no firearms or blasting materials in collecting areas.
    • I will cause no wilful damage to property of any kind - fences, buildings, signs, etc.
    • I will leave all gates as found.
    • I will build fires only in designated or safe places, and will make sure that they are
      completely extinguished before leaving the area.
    • I will discard no burning material - matches, cigarettes, etc.
    • I will fill all excavation holes which may be dangerous to livestock.
    • I will not contaminate wells, creeks, or other water supplies.
    • I will cause no willful damage to collecting material, and will take home only what I
      can reasonably use.
    • I will leave all collecting areas free of litter, regardless of how found.
    • I will co-operate with field trip leaders and those designated in authority in all collecting
    • I will report to my Club/Federation officers or other proper authorities, any deposit of
      material on public lands which should be protected for the enjoyment of future generations
      for public, educational and scientific purposes.
    • I will appreciate and protect our heritage of natural resources.
    • I will observe the "Golden Rule" and will use "Good Outdoor Manners" and will, at all
      times, conduct myself in a manner which will add to the stature and public image of
      rockhounds everywhere.

Geology maps and reports produced by the Ontario government are available through:

Publication Sales
Ministry offorthern Development & Mines
933 Ramsey Lake Rd., Level B2
Sudbury, Ontario P3E6B5
Telephone (705) 670-5691

Guidebooks and reports produced by the Canadian government are available through:

Geological Survey of Canada Bookstore
601 Booth Street
Ottawa, Ontario KlA0138
Telephone (613) 995-4342