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The BLM administers approximately 36.5 million subsurface acres in Idaho, along with mining claim records and mineral leases for lands managed by other Federal agencies.

Minerals in the Federal estate are categorized as leasable, salable, or locatable.  Each classification is administered somewhat differently and may have different requirements for acquisition, exploration, and development.

Leasable minerals are explored-for and developed in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, other leasing acts and BLM regulations.  These include energy-related mineral resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, and geothermal, and some non-energy minerals, such as phosphate, sodium, potassium, and sulfur.

Salable minerals, or mineral materials, are common varieties of minerals and building materials such as sand, stone, gravel, pumice, pumicite, cinders, and clay.  The BLM manages salable minerals under the Materials Act of 1947, as amended, and implementing regulations (43 CFR 3600), which authorize disposal either through a contract of sale or a free use permit.

Generally, salable minerals are widespread, of low unit value, and are often used for construction or landscaping materials. Their value depends largely on market factors, quality of the material, availability of transportation, and transportation costs. See Idaho's Community Pits.

Locatable minerals are any minerals not leasable or salable, and are managed under the General Mining Law of 1872 and BLM regulations (43 CFR 3700 and 3800). Typical locatable minerals are gold, silver, copper, gemstones, lead, zinc, barite, gypsum, and certain varieties of high calcium limestone.  Molybdenum — found in large quantities near Challis — is also locatable.

Locatable minerals can be obtained by filing a mining claim. Learn more about mining claims and sites on Federal Lands.

ATTENTION MINING CLAIMANTS: Effective June 30, 2014 the 2015 mining claim fee has increased to $155 and the location fee for new claims located on or after September 1, 2014 will be $37. Also, you may now pay your annual mining claim maintenance fee online with a credit card. Learn more about these changes.

The 1872 Mining Law grants U.S. citizens the right to prospect, explore, and develop these minerals on public domain lands that have not been “withdrawn” from mineral entry by Congress or the Secretary of the Interior.

Rockhounding is collecting rocks, mineral specimens, gemstones, or petrified wood and is considered a casual use of public lands under most circumstances. Learn more about small suction dredging on BLM lands.

Thompson Creek molybdenum mine in Custer County, Idaho


BLM Solid Minerals Program

BLM Coal Program

Blue Book: Locating Mining Claims 

LR2000 Reference Guide