Locate a Mining Claim or Site

Locate a Mining Claim or Site

To locate a mining claim, you must be a United States citizen (or have declared your intent to become a citizen) or a corporation authorized to do business in the United States.

The federal regulations outlining the proper way to locate a mining claim begin at  43 CFR 3830 .  The steps to locate and maintain a Federal Unpatented Mining Claim/Site are summarized within the brochure Mining Claims and Sites on Federal Lands and below. 


Determine Land Status

On federal land open to mineral entry, one may prospect and properly locate mining claims and sites. If the land has already been claimed, you may want to find another location.

Before you can locate or "stake" a claim, a determination must be made if the lands are open to mineral entry.  No claims can be staked in areas closed to mineral entry under certain acts, regulations, or public land orders.

To assist in your research, through our Public Lands Information Center (Public Room), we have BLM Surface Management and Surface and Mineral Management maps (1:100,000 scale) available which depict surface ownership and federally owned mineral rights.  These maps may be purchased for $4.00 by coming into the Public Room or by telephone at 303-239-3600.  The Public Room is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 4pm.  Further information is available on the Map Information site.   

Also, Colorado land and mineral status records are available to research in the Public Room located at the Colorado State Office.  Many of these records are also available online at the General Land Office Records website

Additionally, GeoCommunicator is the Bureau of Land Management's publication site for the distribution of geospatial data and products to the public. GeoCommunicator provides free interactive mapping and Public Land Survey data for the public to use. The report data on this site is not guaranteed to be reliable as it's no longer updated.  However, it is still found to be useful for mapping purposes.  For more current and reliable data, use LR2000 (see below) to run reports for information.

Finally, The Bureau of Land Management's Legacy Rehost System called LR2000 provides reports on BLM land and mineral use authorizations for oil, gas and geothermal leasing, rights-of-ways, coal and other mineral development, land and mineral title, mining claims, withdrawals, classifications and more on federal lands or on federal mineral estate. This system will provide current information on unpatented mining claims nationwide.  


Mining Claims on Federal Lands Brochure

The fee table within this brochure may be out of date. 


Special Filing Procedures

Power Site Withdrawals

The Mining Claims Rights Restoration Act of 1955 provides, with certain restrictions, for mining, developing, and utilizing the mineral resources of all public lands withdrawn or reserved for power development. The claimant must file a certificate of location marked to indicate that the mining claim is being filed pursuant to the Act of August 11, 1955, the Act of April 8, 1948, by making a notation on the certificate of location which states “Filed under PL 359.” 

Mining claimants who locate placer claims pursuant to PL 359 regulations may not conduct any mining operations for 60 days after filing the certificate of location with the BLM. 

Upon receipt of a certificate of location filed under PL 359, the BLM will send a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as well as the surface management agency of the land to inquire as to the status of any energy related projects currently active in which placer mining operations would substantially interfere. 

The FERC and the surface management agency have 60 days in which to respond to our request to allow placer mining in the area.   

If it is determined that placer operations may substantially interfere with other uses, a notice of intention to hold a hearing will be sent to each of the locators by registered or certified mail within 60 days from the date of filing of the certificate of location. The notice will indicate the time and place of the hearing. Further information on claims filed under PL 359 may be found at 43 CFR 3730.

Stock Raising Homestead Act (SRHA) Lands

SRHA lands are different from other Federal lands in that the United States owns the mineral estate of SRHA lands, but not the surface estate. Patents issued under the SRHA and Homestead Act entries patented under the SRHA reserve the mineral estate to the United States along with the right to enter, mine, and remove any reserved minerals that may be present in the mineral estate.

Those interested in mining within such areas must submit a Notice of Intent to Locate Mining Claims on SRHA Lands (NOITL) (Form 3830-3), which you may obtain from the BLM eForms website. This form and the proper $30 non-refundable processing fee must be submitted to the BLM Colorado State Office before entry onto the lands. 

There are additional procedural requirements to follow when filing the NOITL, which are outlined at 43 CFR 3838. The procedures are outlined and summarized on the BLM Wyoming and the BLM Utah mineral program websites:  

BLM Wyoming, Mining Claims, Stock Raising Homestead Act >>

BLM Utah, Locatable Minerals, Procedures for Locating on SRHA Lands >>


Location certificate posted on corner monument.Corner Monuments

Mining claim corners must be clearly marked or staked.  Federal law requires that mining claim/site boundary corners must be distinctly and clearly marked to be readily identifiable on the ground (43 CFR 3832). 

Generally, to properly follow Federal staking requirements, claimants erect corner posts or monuments on each corner and post a certificate of location on a post or monument at the discovery point or in a conspicuous place within the claim boundaries.

The State of Colorado regulations, as outlined in the Circular No. 3, have additional staking requirements that must also be followed.   

Figure 1.  Example of Methods of Monumenting Mining Claims. Drawing of an ideal lode mining claim (Metes and Bounds survey method).

Figure 1. Example of Methods of Monumenting Mining Claims. Drawing of an ideal lode mining claim (Metes and Bounds survey method).


Figure 2.  Most state laws require conspicuous and substantial monuments for all types of claims and sites.

Figure 2.  Example of substantial monuments which are three feet in heigt,  including a mound of stones, 3 1/2" wide wood post, and a 2" wide metal post.

It is strongly advised that claimants do not use perforated or uncapped metal or plastic (Polybvinyl Chloride-PVC) pipes as mining claim corner monuments, as they are becoming a problem for wildlife on public land.  

Additional information on the dangers of uncapped pipe corner monuments may be found by clicking on the brochures below: 

Protecting Wildlife From Mining Claim Markers Brochure

Help Eliminate Hazards to Birds Brochure

Certificate of Location

Recording of a mining claim or site is documented on a certificate of location.  In Colorado, there is no official form designated for this purpose. Claimants may use forms available through other states or create a certificate of location to meet the state and federal requirements. 

Federal regulations (43 CFR 3833.11) state that a certificate of location must include the following information:

  1. The name or number, or both, of the claim or site;
  2. The names and current mailing addresses of the locators of the claim;
  3. The type of claim or site;
  4. The date of location; and
  5. A complete description of the lands claimed.

A certificate of location must be recorded at the BLM Colorado State Office within 90 days from the date the claim is located. 

Also, in Colorado, the deadline for recording in the county recorder's office in which the claim is located is 30 days for placer claims and 90 days for lode claims (Circular No. 3).

Mining Claims and Sites located and filed toward the end of the assessment year often cause claimants confusion as to the required annual filing requirements to maintain their claims. 

All claims located and filed throughout the calendar year prior to the September 1 assessment year deadline are required to submit the required initial location fees.  The fees are outlined below under the heading "Required Fees for Mining Claim(s)/Site(s)".

Furthermore, claimants must also comply with the annual maintenance fee requirement due for the upcoming year, which begins on September 1. The annual maintenance fee deadline of September 1 for all mining claims/sites filed with the BLM begins immediately after the certificate of location is filed.

Claims located prior to September 1 and filed with the BLM after September 1 also have to comply with the annual assessment maintenance fee requirement. These claims are referred to as "bridge claims."

Bridge Claims

A bridge claim is defined as a newly located mining claim that "bridges" the September 1 annual deadline, i.e., located before September 1 but filed with the BLM after September 1. 

Claimants must pay the required initial location fees. The fees are outlined below under the heading "Required Fees for Mining Claim(s)/Site(s)".

In addition to the location fees (which includes an initial maintenance fee), and within the 90-day filing period allowed for new mining claims/sites, the claimant must pay the annual maintenance fee(s) for the upcoming assessment year.

If the claimants and all related parties qualify as a small miner, and ONLY at the same time as they record the new "bridge" mining claims/sites, they may file a Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification (Form 3830.005) for the upcoming assessment year. 


Required Fees to Locate Mining Claims & Sites for

New mining claim(s)/site(s) located BEFORE September 1, 2014 

Lode Claims, Mill Sites and Tunnel Sites

  • $34 location fee
  • $20 processing fee  
  • $140 maintenance fee

Total Fees Required: $194 

Placer Claims

  • $34 location fee
  • $20 processing fee 
  • $140 maintenance fee for each 20 acres or portion thereof as shown in the table below:

 
Acreage in the Claim
Maintenance Fee
Payment Due
<= 20 acres
$140.00
> 20 acres and <= 40 acres
$280.00
> 40 acres and <= 60 acres
$420.00
> 60 acres and <= 80 acres
$560.00
> 80 acres and <= 100 acres
$700.00
> 100 acres and <= 120 acres
$840.00
> 120 acres and <= 140 acres
$980.00
> 140 acres and <= 160 acres
$1,120.00

 


Required Fees to Locate Mining Claims & Sites for

New mining claim(s)/site(s) located AFTER September 1, 2014

Lode Claims, Mill Sites and Tunnel Sites

  • $34 location fee
  • $20 processing fee 
  • $155 maintenance fee

Total Fees Required: $212

Placer Claims

  • $34 location fee
  • $20 processing fee
  • $155 maintenance fee for each 20 acres or portion thereof as shown in the table below:

 
Acreage in the Claim
Maintenance Fee
Payment Due
<= 20 acres
$155.00
> 20 acres and <= 40 acres
$310.00
> 40 acres and <= 60 acres
$465.00
> 60 acres and <= 80 acres
$620.00
> 80 acres and <= 100 acres
$775.00
> 100 acres and <= 120 acres
$930.00
> 120 acres and <= 140 acres
$1,085.00
> 140 acres and <= 160 acres
$1,240.00

 

The Secretary has authorized an increase in the location fee and annual maintenance fee for mining claim(s)/site(s) on Federal land. These adjustments reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This final rule was published in the Federal Register (Vol. 79, No. 125) on Monday, June 30, 2014, a copy of the notice may be found at: Federal Register/Vol. 79, No. 125/Monday, June 30, 2014/Rules and Regulations, Page 36662-36665.


Research Land Status:
Additional Information:

State of Colorado, County Election Offices/County Clerks and Recorders

Certificate of Location Forms (forms may be changed to indicate state in which the claim is located):

State of Colorado Regulations (Circular No.3)

BLM Electronic Forms (eForms)