|Frequently Asked Mining Questions|
Frequently Asked Mining Questions
An unpatented mining claim conveys ownership to the minerals and gives the owner the right to extract and develop the mineral deposits. The federal government maintains ownership of the land itself.
The original 1872 mining law offered miners the ability to apply for patents for their mining claims. Once patented, the title for the land was passed to the claimant which conveyed both the land and the minerals to the owner.
In 1995, the US Congress enacted a moratorium on the issuance of patents for mining claims. This may change in the future.
Tunnel Site -
Mill Site -
In 1872, congress passed the General Mining Law which stated that all un-
Once a claim/site is serialized, an annual filing must be made on or before September 1, of each year to maintain the claim/site. If you have more than 10 claims, you must pay the $155 maintenance fee for each 20 acres. If you have 10 or fewer claims/sites, you may choose to file either the maintenance fee payment or file the Maintenance Fee Waiver certification (small miner’s waiver). If you choose to file a small miner’s waiver, then you must also perform $100 worth of labor or improvements on all claims during the assessment year (September 1, noon through September 1, noon). An Assessment Work Notice (Proof of Labor) form must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per claim. For mill/tunnel sites, a Notice of Intent to Hold must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per site. (43 CFR 3833.1-
A small miner’s waiver is short for maintenance fee payment waiver certification. A small miners waiver may be filed by those claimants holding 10 or fewer claims/sites, instead of paying the $155 maintenance fee by September 1, of each year. If you choose to file a small miner’s wavier you must also perform assessment work and file an assessment work notice by December 30, of each year. (43 CFR 3833.1-
Some of the activities that qualify for assessment work are construction and maintenance of trails, access roads, development drilling and sampling, and buildings that benefit the claim. For more information about what qualifies as assessment work please contact your local BLM office.
In addition to filing with the BLM, an Affidavit of Assessment Work (Proof of Labor form) or Notice of Intent to Hold should be filed with the county recorder's office. The location of this office will always be in the County Seat of the county in which your claims are situated. If you pay the maintenance fee rather than filing a small miner’s waver, the proof of labor form filed with the county should indicate the fees and the date paid.
Annual taxes may be due but vary county by county. Some counties have stopped collecting taxes on mining claims due to their insignificance as a county revenue source. The county should automatically send you a tax bill for the claim if one is due, and it will be based on the owner of record as of January 1. In counties that collect taxes, typically they amount to 1% of the assessed value of the claim. Contact the county tax assessor’s office for details.
Recreational mining, such as gold panning and mineral collecting that make
Depending on your state, you may need a permit for dredging. Check with your local state Fish and Game office for details. In California, there is currently a ban on dredging pending the environmental review process. Once this process has been completed, suction dredging should return. See the following link for details on suction dredging: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/suctiondredge/
The owner of an unpatented mining claim cannot be denied access to his property by federal law. Generally, if a locked gate is preventing you from accessing your claim, the Forest Service (or appropriate agency) must provide you with a key.
Yes, as owner of an unpatented mining claim you are allowed to camp on your claim pursuant to the rules of the surface management agency.
You are allowed to build on a claim with restrictions if the structures are in direct support of mining activities. Contact the surface management agency for details.
Mining Law of 1872
Federal Land Policy Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) -
Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 3800
Interior Board of Land Appeals Decisions
Disclaimer: This guide has been furnished to help provide background and general information to readers. It is recommended that information be acquired from official sources such as BLM, USFS, counties, or the applicable agency. Advanced Geologic Exploration, Inc. makes every effort to provide accurate information, but provides no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of furnished information.