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Q. Who can own a mining claim?

A. A person who is a citizen of the United States or has declared an intention to become a citizen with the Immigration and Naturalization Service may locate and hold a mining claim or site. A corporation organized under State law is considered a citizen and may locate and hold a mining claim or site. A corporation is held to the same standards as a citizen. Non-citizens are not permitted to own or have an interest in mining claims or sites. There is no limit to the number of claims and sites that you may hold as a qualified claimant, as long as the requirements of the General Mining Law have been met.

Q. What is a mining claim?

A. A mining claim is a selected parcel of Federal land, valuable for a specific mineral deposit or deposits, for which you have asserted a right of possession under the General Mining Law. Your right is restricted to the development and extraction of a mineral deposit. The rights granted by a mining claim protect against a challenge by the United States and other claimants only after the discovery of a valuable mineral deposit. The two types of mining claims are lode and placer. In addition, mill sites and tunnel sites may be located to provide support facilities for lode and placer mining claims.

Q. What are the differences between a lode claim and a placer claim?Lode Claim Description Map

A. Lode Claims cover classic veins or lodes having well-defined boundaries and also include other rock in-place bearing valuable mineral deposits. Examples include quartz or other veins bearing gold or other metallic mineral deposits and large volume, but low-grade disseminated metallic deposits, such as Carlin-type gold deposits and copper-bearing granites. Lode claims are usually located as parallelograms with the side lines parallel to the vein or lode (see Figure). Descriptions are by metes and bounds surveys (giving the length and compass bearing of each boundary line from a central point or monument to each corner post, and then sequentially around the perimeter of the claim). Federal statute limits a lode claim to a maximum of 1,500’ in length along the vein or lode. The width is a maximum of 600’, 300’ 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 in vein or lode form that extend at depth outside the vertical boundaries of the claim.

Placer Claims cover all those deposits not subject to lode claims. Originally, placer claims included only deposits of mineral-bearing sand and gravel containing free gold or other detrital minerals. By congressional acts and judicial interpretations, many nonmetallic bedded or layered deposits, such as gypsum and high- calcium limestone, are located as placer claims. Where possible, placer claims are to be located by legal subdivision.

The maximum size of a placer claim you may locate is 20 acres. An association of two locators may locate 40 acres, and three may locate 60 acres, etc. The maximum area of an association placer claim permitted by law is 160 acres for eight or more persons. The maximum size of a placer claim for a corporation 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. The key word here is locators. We have an association of 8 persons that have, in most cases, located 160 acre claims.

Q. Can I build a house on the property?

A. No. This is for mining purposes only. The US Gov't owns the land, you will be deeded the "placer mineral rights". You may not construct permanent structures, mobile structures, or store equipment without the prior approval of an authorized Federal official. Intermittent or casual mineral exploration and development do not normally justify the use of such structures.

Q. What does it take to change from an Unpatented Claim to a Patented Mining Claim?

A. Since October 1, 1994, the BLM has been prohibited by Acts of Congress from accepting any new mineral patent applications. The moratorium has been renewed annually through the various Interior Appropriations Acts. It is unknown how long this moratorium will continue.

Q. Can I keep all of the gold that I find?
A. Yes. Additionally, there are no royalties due to the US Gov't as on some other claim types.

Q. How long can I camp on the property?
A. 14 consecutive days in the same spot if camping. If you are mining, there are other conditions that apply. Please check with the BLM here.

Q. Is there water, electric, or gas available?
A. No water, no electric, no gas, need to bring your own....

Q. Can you provide proof that you own this claim?
A. Yes, upon request.

Q. Have you personally found gold in these areas?
A. Yes. I have recovered several very nice nuggets using my metal detector. Not all areas are going to produce the same.   Look!

Q. Why are you selling this claim?
A. Because we have several others, more than we can mine in ten lifetimes.

Q. What does it cost each year to maintain a mining claim?
A. Either a one time $10.00 fee for filing a waiver with the BLM...if you qualify for the "small miners exemption", plus the recording fee at the county where the claim is located, which is about $10-14.
        Option 2, pay an annual maintenance fee to the BLM of $140.00.
        Option 3, send in an "affidavit of assessment work". See specific details from the BLM web site here.

Q. How long can I keep the claim?
A. Forever, so long as you follow the maintenance requirements.

Q. Are there taxes on mining claims?
A. Not in Arizona. California has taxes on mining claims.

Q. Are others allowed to mine on this property or is the claim owner the only one allowed to mine and prospect it? And can I 'rent' the claim' to others?
A. Yes, the mineral rights will be exclusively yours. No one may legally remove minerals from the claim, without your permisson. Yes, your interest is in "real property", so you may lease, rent, sell, inherit, will etc.

Q. What if I find a vein in solid rock, then what?
A. You could file what is known as a 'lode' claim to protect your interests. (see section above)

Q. I thought that the BLM limited the filing of mining claims to 20 acres per person, how can you sell a 160 acre claim, do you need 8 people named on the quitclaim deed?

A. Yes, the BLM now requires that each 20 acres of a mining claim be transferred to another individual or U.S. registered corporation or LLC. For instance, you and 3 freinds locate a placer mining claim totaling 80 acres. You want to sell the claim and keep it intact. You must transfer your interest(s) to 4 other persons or U.S. companies.

Portions of this page copied from BLM sources

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