Pit and Quarry Operations


Every licensee and permittee is responsible for the day-to-day monitoring of their site to ensure they are in compliance with the requirements of the Aggregate Resources Act, the regulations, the Aggregate Resources of Ontario Provincial Standards, the site plans and the conditions of their licence or permit.


Site Plan

The site plan is the primary tool that controls the operation and rehabilitation of all pits and quarries. The licensee or permittee is legally bound to operate and rehabilitate the site in accordance with the site plan.

The site plan includes information on:

  • how the extraction of aggregate will occur on the site, including which parts of the licence or permit area will be extracted first, how extraction will move across the site, how deep the extraction will be, what types of equipment will be used and what the hours of operation will be

  • how progressive rehabilitation will be carried out

  • what the final rehabilitation of the site will involve

  • any required monitoring programs that were identified during the application process.

Operational Standards

The Aggregate Resources of Ontario: Provincial Standards Version 1.0 contains a set of Operational Standards for licences, wayside permits and aggregate permits. These Operational Standards identify day-to-day operational requirements that apply to all pits and quarries unless specifically noted on the site plan.

There are three different sets of Operational Standards, one for licences, one for wayside permits and one for aggregate permits. Some examples of Operational Standards are:

  • fencing and gate requirements

  • the requirement to strip all topsoil before extraction and keep all topsoil that was stripped on the site for future rehabilitation

  • the minimum extraction setback distances (areas where extraction is not permitted) from highways, the boundary of the site, and residential land and water bodies

  • the requirement to remove all scrap on an ongoing basis.

The provisions of a site plan, such as the minimum setback and fencing requirements, may vary from the Operational Standards. The following are examples of situations where the site plan may specifically note a variation from the Operational Standards:

  • Where the extraction is below water and the final rehabilitation of the site includes a pond, the site plan may allow for the removal of some topsoil because it will not be required in the pond area.

  • Where the boundary of the site is next to another licensed or permitted property, the extraction setback on the boundary may be varied to allow extraction through the common property boundary so that the final rehabilitation of the two sites can be blended together.

Licence or Permit Conditions

The licensee or permittee must also ensure they are following all of the conditions attached to their licence or permit during the operation of the pit or quarry.

All licences and permits issued after June 27, 1997, have Prescribed Conditions attached, and these conditions cannot be changed or removed by the Ministry of Natural Resources or the Ontario Municipal Board. These conditions are found in the Provincial Standards, under each category of application, such as the Prescribed Conditions that Apply to Category 1 Licences. The conditions cover topics such as dust suppression, fuel storage and spills contingency plans, and the requirement to obtain other approvals under the Ontario Water Resources Act, such as a Permit to Take Water.

Annual Compliance Reporting

Every licensee and permittee in the Province of Ontario is required to complete a Compliance Assessment Report once each year, between May 1st and September 15th. The report must be filed with the Ministry of Natural Resources no later than September 30th, and must also be filed with the regional municipality or county and the local municipality in which the site is located.

During the term of the licence or permit, the licensee/permittee must keep a copy of every report submitted to the ministry. The Compliance Assessment Reports are public information and any person may examine a report and receive a copy of a report for a reasonable charge.

When a licensee/permittee reports a violation on the Compliance Assessment Report, they must indicate how and when the violation will be fixed. The standard time period for fixing a violation is 90 days, unless the Ministry of Natural Resources Aggregate Inspector approves an extension in writing before the report is submitted to the ministry. If the licensee/permittee stops the activity causing the violation and the violation is fixed during the approved time period, the licensee/permittee is protected from prosecution. For example, if a licensee/permittee places a stockpile within 30 m of the boundary of a pit or quarry, and the stockpile is removed during the approved time period, the licensee/permittee is protected from prosecution.

If the licensee/permittee does not submit the Compliance Assessment Report by September 30th, or does not fix a violation identified in a report by the approved deadline date, the licence or permit is automatically suspended until the report is submitted or the violation is fixed.

There is no provision in the legislation to extend the 90-day remedial action period once the Compliance Assessment Report has been filed with the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Changes to Operations

Over time there may be a need to make changes to licences/permit conditions or site plans. These could be as simple as a change in address or corporate name, or more complicated, such as a change in extraction depth or the amount of aggregate that can be removed from a site in a given year. Amendments to site plans or licence/permit conditions can be requested by either the licensee/permittee or by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Prescribed Conditions (attached to licences and permits issued after June 27, 1997) cannot be changed or removed.
Conditions on the site plan, licence or permit may be in place as a result of extensive review and discussion during the application process and may have been included to satisfy concerns raised by individuals, agencies or Ontario Municipal Board recommendations. Amendments are therefore considered only after careful review of the implications.

When a site plan amendment is requested by the licensee/permittee, they must provide any information that the Ministry of Natural Resources considers necessary to assess the change in the operation and/or rehabilitation of the site. This could include an updated site plan or new technical reports.

For major site plan amendments the licensee or permittee may be required to circulate the proposed amendment to agencies such as the Ministry of the Environment or conservation authorities. Examples of major site plan amendments include a change in extraction depth, an increase in the amount of aggregate to be removed each year, and significant changes to the operation or rehabilitation of the site.

On licensed sites, all significant changes to licence conditions and all major site plan amendments must be circulated to municipalities and posted on Ontario's Environmental Registry.