Your Questions, Answered

March 20, 2018

What is a mining claim? Each of our mining claims is 20 acres of land designated for extraction of and profiting from the minerals within. The purchase of a mining claim grants you the right to locate, recover and profit from the minerals within the claim boundaries.

 

The two types of mining claims we offer are Lode and Placer.

 

Lode and Placer, what’s the difference? Simply put, a lode claim is for minerals embedded within a zone or deposit, think solid and in-place. Placer claims include surface deposits in a loose state, think sand and gravel. Another factor is your equipment. If your equipment consists of a shovel, gold pan and a drywasher, you will not be lode mining.

 

What are the camping limitations?  The Bureau of Land Management governs the land and allows anyone to camp up to 14 consecutive days in a 90-day period. If you have a mining claim and are actively working your claim, you have the right to protect that operation.

 

Can I build a home? No, a mining claim is not personal property and no permanent structures may be built. Portable buildings for storing equipment and/or a watchman’s shack are permitted to protect an active operation provided you appropriately file a Notice.

 

Any other fees or costs after the claim is paid for? Mining claims located on federal land governed by the Bureau of Land Management require an annual maintenance fee, currently $155 due by September 1st of each year to keep the claim active. We think of it as property tax. Owners may be eligible for a small miner’s waiver, reducing the fee to $10 per year. An active mining claim is real property and can be deeded and willed.

 

What is allowed and what needs a permit? First, it is important to understand that mining operations fall into 3 categories, Casual Use Level, Notice Level and Plan of Operations Level.

 

Casual Use Level: Simple operations with hand tools and small-scale equipment under 10 horsepower and lasting less than 14 days in a 90-day period.

 

Notice Level: Prospecting operations above and beyond those described as Casual Use require a Notice to be filed, approved and bonded. This includes erecting fences and any structures. There is generally a 15-day processing timeframe in which your Notice will be reviewed, and the amount of the bond will be determined. You must provide the financial guarantee (bond) within 60 days.

 

Plan of Operations Level: Disturbance of land involving over 5 acres, over 1,000 tons of material; including any heavy or earth-moving equipment, explosives or chemicals as well as engines over 10 horsepower require a Plan of Operations to be filed, approved and bonded. These are reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act.

 

The road is too rough, can I fix it? Maintaining or improving existing roads is allowed without a permit and may count towards assessment work on a small miner’s waiver.

 

What is a Small Miner’s Waiver? A Small Miner’s Waiver may be filed instead of paying the annual maintenance fee if you own 10 or fewer mining claims in the United States and you have spent at least $100 developing or improving each claim owned.

 

How about water? In Arizona water is not plentiful, expect to have to haul in what water you need and set up a recirculating system to reuse it.

 

If you have any questions, please call our office at (623) 374-5413

or visit the BLM Directly at www.blm.gov

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