This article was taken from an online brochure found on the BLM website
Federal Lands Open to Mining
There are federally administered lands in 19 States where you may locate a mining claim or site.
These States are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
In these States, the BLM manages the surface of public lands and the Forest Service manages the surface of National Forest System lands. The BLM is responsible for the subsurface on both public lands and National Forest System lands.
You may prospect and locate claims and sites on lands open to mineral entry. Claims may not be staked in areas closed to mineral entry by a special act of Congress, regulation, or public land order. These areas are withdrawn from the operation of the mining laws.
Areas withdrawn from location of mining claims include National Parks, National Monuments, Indian reservations, most reclamation projects, military reservations, scientific testing areas, most wildlife protection areas (such as Federal wildlife refuges), and lands withdrawn from mineral entry for other reasons.
Lands withdrawn for power development may be subject to mining location and entry only under certain conditions.
Mining claims may not be located on lands that have been
(1) designated by Congress as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System,
(2) designated as a wild portion of a Wild and Scenic River, or
(3) withdrawn by Congress for study as a Wild and Scenic River.
There is usually a 1/4-mile buffer zone withdrawn from location of mining claims on either side of a river while the river is being studied for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System are withdrawn to mining claim location at the time of designation by Congress. Mining activities are permitted only on those mining claims that can show proof of a discovery either
(1) by December 31, 1983, or
(2) on the date of designation as wilderness by Congress.
Explanation of Location
Mining Claims and Sites
Anyone who is a citizen of the United States or has declared an intention to become a citizen may locate a mining claim.
A corporation organized under State laws may also locate a mining claim. The Government considers corporations to have the same standards as a citizen.
A claim held by an alien is voidable only by the U.S. Government, not another individual.
There is no limit to the number of claims and sites that may be held by a claimant.
A mining claim is a particular parcel of Federal land, valuable for a specific mineral deposit or deposits. It is a parcel for which an individual has asserted a right of possession. The right is restricted to the extraction and development of a mineral deposit. The rights granted by a mining claim are valid against a challenge by the United States and other claimants only after the discovery of a valuable mineral deposit.
There are two types of mining claims, lode and placer. There are two other types of mineral entries, mill sites and tunnel sites.
Lode Claims: Deposits subject to lode claims include classic veins or lodes having well-defined boundaries. They also include other rock in-place bearing valuable minerals and may be broad zones of mineralized rock. Examples include quartz or other veins bearing gold or other metallic minerals and large volume, but low-grade disseminated metallic deposits. Lode claims are usually described as parallelograms with the longer side lines parallel to the vein or lode . Descriptions are by metes and bounds surveys (giving length and direction of each boundary line).
Federal statute limits their size to a maximum of 1,500 feet in length along the vein or lode. Their width is a maximum of 600 feet, 300 feet on either side of the centerline of the vein or lode.
The end lines of the lode claim must be parallel to qualify for underground extralateral rights. Extralateral rights involve the rights to minerals that extend at depth beyond the vertical boundaries of the claim.
Placer Claims: Mineral deposits subject to placer claims include all those deposits not subject to lode claims. Originally, these included only deposits of unconsolidated materials, such as sand and gravel, containing free gold or other minerals.
By Congressional acts and judicial interpretations, many nonmetallic bedded or layered deposits, such as gypsum and high calcium limestone, are also considered placer deposits.
Placer claims, where practicable, are located by legal subdivision (for example: the E NE 1/4 NE 1/4, Section 2, Township 10 South, Range 21 East, Mount Diablo Meridian).
The maximum size of a placer claim is 20 acres per locator . An association of two locators may locate 40 acres, and three may locate 60 acres, etc.
The maximum area of an association placer claim is 160 acres for eight or more persons.
However, the maximum size of an association placer claim in Alaska is limited to 40 acres under State law.
The maximum size of a placer claim for corporations is 20 acres per claim.
Corporations may not locate association placer claims unless they are in association with other private individuals or other corporations as co-locators.
Mill Sites: A mill site must be located on nonmineral land.
Its purpose is to either
(1) support a lode or placer mining claim operation or
(2) support itself independent of any particular claim.
A mill site must include the erection of a mill or reduction works and/or may include other uses reasonably incident to the support of a mining operation.
Descriptions of mill sites are by metes and bounds surveys or legal subdivision. The maximum size of a mill site is 5 acres.
Tunnel Sites: A tunnel site is where a tunnel is run to develop a vein or lode. It may also be used for the discovery of unknown veins or lodes.
To stake a tunnel site, two stakes are placed up to 3,000 feet apart on the line of the proposed tunnel. Recordation is the same as a lode claim. Some States require additional centerline stakes (for example, in Nevada centerline stakes must be placed at 300-foot intervals).
An individual may locate lode claims to cover any or all blind (not known to exist) veins or lodes intersected by the tunnel. The maximum distance these lode claims may exist is 1,500 feet on either side of the centerline of the tunnel.
This, in essence, gives the mining claimant the right to prospect an area 3,000 feet wide and 3,000 feet long.
Any mining claim located for a blind lode discovered while driving a tunnel relates back in time to the date of the location of the tunnel site.
Staking a Mining Claim or Site
Federal law simply specifies that claim boundaries must be distinctly and clearly marked to be readily identifiable on the ground.
The mining laws allow States to establish their own laws regarding the manner in which mining claims and sites are located. Most States have statutes and regulations adding to the Mining Law of 1872, as amended, concerning the actual staking and recording of mining claims.
Staking requirements include the placement, size, and acceptable materials for a corner post or a discovery monument.
Check with the proper State agency(s) before locating claims.
State agencies may include the State geological survey, the State mineral resource department, or the State lands commission.
Generally, staking a mining claim includes
(1) erecting corner posts or monuments and
(2) posting a notice of location on a post or monument in a conspicuous place.
The conspicuous place on the claim is usually the point of discovery. Several States also require side-line or end-line posts or monuments for claims. Claims and sites described by legal subdivision in some States do not require the erection of corner monuments.
However, all claims and sites must have a location (sites) or discovery (claims) monument.
Be sure to check what the law requires in the State where the claims and sites are to be located.
For a specific tract of land, check the official land records at the BLM State or District Office responsible for administering the land area. Rather than looking, randomly through the records for lands open to location, it is better to restrict your search to a general area of interest.
Topographic map(s) of the area (published by the U.S. Geological Survey) provide the legal description (meridian, township, range, section, lot) of such lands.
Visit the local BLM office or the BLM State Office and check maps, the BLM Master Title Plats, mining claim records, and files.
Ultimately, it is up to the locator to determine if there are prior existing claims on the ground.
Recording a Mining Claim or Site
Claims and sites must be recorded with both the county and the proper BLM STATE OFFICE. In Alaska, claims may also be recorded with the BLM office in Fairbanks.
County: State laws usually require filing the original location notice or certificate in the county recorder's or the county clerk's office. The proper county is generally the one in which the claim is located.
Each State has its own requirement for when a location notice must be filed and recorded. This period is usually within 90 days of staking the claim on the ground. However, some States require earlier filings, such as within 60 days or 30 days. Other States have different timeframes for different types of claims.
Location notices contain the following basic information:
(1) the date of location on the ground,
(2) the name of the locator(s),
(3) the name of the claim or site,
(4) the type of claimor site,
(5) the acreage claimed, and
(6) a description of the parcel on the ground. The description may be either a legal description (by parts of the section, township, range, and meridian) or a metes and bounds survey (connection of corners by distance and direction).
For mining claims, metes and bounds surveys are tied to the discovery point. The discovery point should be tied to some well-known, permanent object.
Examples of permanent objects include an existing cadastral survey monument, a bench mark, a bridge, a fork of a stream, or a road intersection.
Local printing companies, office supply stores, stationery stores, and BLM offices are possible sources for obtaining location notice and certificate forms.
BLM: The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) requires claimants to file a copy of the official record of the notice or certificate of location with the BLM.
This includes any amendments (i.e., changes) in claim boundaries and any changes in ownership. FLPMA (Sec. 314) also requires a map of the claim/site boundaries to be filed with the BLM. Other documents filed under
State law must also accompany the copy of the official record filed with the BLM. Even if State law does not require recordation, the owner must file proper documents with the BLM. Federal recording regulations, 43 CFR 3833, specify the information required.
These requirements may be obtained from BLM State or District Offices.
There is a $10 nonrefundable service charge to record each new location. In addition, at the time of recording are due a $25 location fee and a $100 maintenance fee, bringing the entire cost of recording a single claim or site to $135.
The BLM considers a claim or site abandoned and void if the claimant fails to record with the BLM within the prescribed period.
The timeframe for filing is within 90 days from the date of location or date of change. Use a separate location notice for each claim/site or the claim will be deemed abandoned.
Amendments and Transfers of Interest:
Interest in a properly recorded mining claim or site may be transferred in its entirety or in part.
Generally, a quitclaim deed or other type of recordable conveyance document (this is governed by State law) is needed for this transfer of interest.
An amended location notice is proper to show changes in the description of a claim or site but is notproper for a transfer of ownership. An amended location notice may accompany the quitclaim deed.
File transfer and amendment documents with the proper county office and BLM STATE OFFICE.
File transfer documents within 60 days after the transfer.
The BLM has a $5 nonrefundable service charge to file amendments and transfers of ownership for each claim or site.
Failure to file these documents, in the case of any action or contest initiated by the United States, results in no notification and no legal defense against failure to be properly served.
Abandonment or Relinquishment:
Upon abandonment of a claim or site or relinquishment to the Federal Government, file a notice with the proper county office and the BLM STATE OFFICE.
No particular form is required; a letter is acceptable. Be sure to include the claim or site name and the BLM serial number. There is no charge to file these documents.
THE PROPER BLM STATE OFFICE IS THE ONLY OFFICIAL FILING
OFFICE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT,except for the BLM Fairbanks
Note: In some states the BLM, the Forest Service and the State may have signed a memorandum of Understanding or a cooperative agreement. The agreement may allow a State agency or a county department to be the lead for approving a plan of operations on Federal lands. The operator would submit a plan of operations to the State or county agency, rather than to the BLM or the Forest Service. Contact the appropriate BLM State Office or Forest Service Regional Office to determine the lead agency in a particular State.
List of Fees for Filing Mining Claim and Site Documents with the BLM (January 1997)
New Location Notice (per claim/site) $ 10
Service Charge (recording fee) Location fee $ 25
Initial Maintenance fee $100
Notice of Intent to Locate Mining Claims on Stockraising Homestead Act lands $ 25
Amendments/Transfer of Ownership (per claim/site) $ 5
Affidavit of Annual Assesment Work (per claim/site) $ 5
Annual Maintenance Fee $100
Petition for Deferment of Assesment Work (per Petition) $ 25
Mineral Patent Application (first claim) $250
Filing for each additional claim/site in one patent application (per additional claim/site) $ 50