Mining on Public Lands in Alaska

More than 75% of the federal land in Alaska is closed to mining because it is located in national parks, preserves, monuments, wildlife refuges, or other areas withdrawn from mineral entry (staking mining claims). Remaining lands open to mineral entry, potentially valuable areas are often already claimed. So, the first step in staking a mining claim, is thorough research into the land status to determine whether the land is available for mineral entry and whether it is already claimed.

There are several steps to determine whether lands are open to mining:

  1. First, determine the general area(s) in which you are interested. Information is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps or other sources to help you find potentially valuable areas.
  2. Next identify the legal description of the land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land records in Alaska are based on the rectangular system of survey.  There are five meridians and approximately 18,600 townships in Alaska.  The legal description (meridian, township, range and section) may be obtained from the pertinent topographical map available for view in the BLM's Anchorage or Fairbanks Public Information Centers.  Alternatively, the maps may be purchased from a USGS center.
  3. Once you have determined the specific location and land description, the BLM can help determine if the land is open for mining.  The BLM currently has two new on-line resources to provide accurate depictions of land status suitable for use in staking mining claims.  These resources are Spatial Data Management System (SDMS) and the Alaska Case Retrieval Enterprise System (ACRES)  The Master Title Plats [MTPs] for each individual township are available on the SDMS site as well as U.S. Survey plats.  Copies can be purchased in the BLM Public Information Center (note that mining claims are not shown on the MTPs).
  4. Finally, after determining the location and land status, and before prospecting on the ground, it is highly recommended that a thorough search of the ACRES database for mining claims already staked in the immediate area.  If there are other claims in the area, come into the BLM Public Information Center and review the location notices in the pertinent case files to verify the location and avoid "claim jumping."
  5. Once everything checks out, you are ready to go out and physically stake your corner posts for your new mining claim.  It is a good idea to bring your GPS coordinates to record your claim corners.  GPS coordinates will improve the accuracy of your ground location and will help prevent overstaking.  Once you have staked your claim(s), you have 90 days to file with the BLM.  All location notices must be recorded with the local state recorders office, and a copy of that recordation should be forwarded to the BLM to be included in the mining claim casefile(s).
For information regarding the required fees see "BLM Fact Sheet-Maintenance and Location Fee Requirements."