Locating and Recording a Mining Claim/Site
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Locating a Claim
The location of a mining claim involves a series of steps. You first need to determine the exact location of the area you are interested on the ground as defined by the Public Land Survey System (township, range, section). You may purchase maps or use several on-line sites to assist you in identifying the legal description. Be sure the land is open to mineral entry by checking the master title plats. Also check with the county recorder's office in which the claim is to be located and on LR2000 for active mining claims in the area of interest. LR2000 only identifies claim locations to the nearest 1/4 section (160 acres), while most mining claims are described to twenty acres. If you locate a mining claim over another mining claim, BLM does not get involved, nor will we refund fees. Rival claimant issues are a civil matter to be decided in court. Blank forms for Notice of Location of Placer Claim or Notice of Location of Lode claim may be purchased at many stationary stores. Blank forms and examples of forms may also be found on the internet, but make sure that the form you choose is accepted in the state for which the mining claim location is to be filed.
Under Oregon State Law, the Location Notice must be filed for record in the county in which the claim is located within 60 days after the date of location. Under Washington State Law, the Location Notice must be filed for record in the county in which the claim is located within 30 days for a placer claim and 90 days for a lode claim after the date of location. A fee is usually charged. Requirements for monumenting your claim on the ground are found under state law. Please note post requirements and wildlife. Be advised that sometimes animals or people may remove markers.
Within 90 days of the date of location, a copy of the Location Notice that was recorded with the county and a map so that it can be identified on the ground shall be recorded at the BLM State Office. The following information is required on the copy of the Location Notice: name of claim/site, name/current mailing address of locator(s), type of claim or site, date of location, and legal land description. You cannot locate both a placer and a lode claim as one claim. Two separate location notices are required.
- Locator Requirements (PDF)
For new lode claims or mill or tunnel sites, you must pay a $189 per claim/site fee at the time of recordation with the BLM. This fee covers a $15 processing fee, a $34 location fee, and a $140 maintenance fee for the assessment year in which the claim/site was located. For placer claims, you must pay a $140 maintenance fee payment for every 20 acres, or portion thereof, in addition to the processing fee and location fee. For example, a 60 acre claim would cost $469; a 70 acre claim would cost $609. The assessment year begins on September 1. For any NEW claims located prior to September 1, but filed with the BLM after September 1, you must file your waiver certification with the location notice (in the same envelope). If you do not qualify for a waiver, you must pay an additional $140 maintenance fee for lode claims or mill or tunnel sites. If you have a placer claim, you must pay an additional $140 maintenance fee for every 20 acres, or portion thereof. If you file a waiver form, you must also file a notice of intent to hold on or before December 30 with a $10 per claim service fee.
Legal Land Descriptions
Placer claims must be described by aliquot parts and complete lots unless they meet one of these three exceptions:
- Located on unsurveyed Federal lands;
- Gulch or bench placer claims**; or
- Bounded by other mining claims or nonmineral lands.
** Gulch placer claim - placer claim located on the bed of a river contained within steep, nonmineral canyon walls.
Bench placer claim - placer claim located on terraces or former floodplains made of gravel or sediment or both on the valley wall or slope above the current riverbed, and created when the river previously was at a higher topographic level than now.
If the claim meets one of the exceptions, include a cover letter stating the exception. Also include a map of the claim. Describe the claim by metes and bounds. In all instances, a claim must also meet the following requirements:
- A location by 1 or 2 persons must fit within the boundaries of a square 40 acre parcel (1320 feet x 1320 feet);
- By 3 or 4 persons in 2 square 40 acre parcels
- By 5 or 6 persons in 3 square 40 acre parcels
- By 7 or 8 persons in 4 square 40 acre parcels
An individual placer claim may not exceed 20 acres in size. An association placer claim may not exceed 160 acres. Within the association, each person or business entity may locate up to 20 acres. To obtain the full 160 acres, the association must consist of at least eight co-locators.
A lode claim may be no larger than 1500' by 600' and be described by metes and bounds.
- Placer Claim Examples (PDF)
- Section ENLARGED (PDF)
- Lode Claim Description Examples (PDF)
- Sketch Map of Mining Claim (PDF)
- Locating claims on Stock Raising Homestead Act Lands
- Annual Maintenance Requirements
- Transfers Relinquishments Amendments
- BLM Forms on Forms Central Website
- For Small Miner Exemptions, use the Maintenance Fee Waiver, BLM Maintenance Fee Waiver Form 3830-2 (PDF)
Code of Federal Regulations
- Placer Claim Maintenance Fee Regulations (PDF)
- Locating Mining Claims 43 CFR 3830
- Locating Mining Claims 43 CFR 3832
- Recording Mining Claims and Sites 43 CFR 3833
- Required Fees for Mining Claims or Sites 43 CFR 3834
- Waivers From Annual Maintenance Fees 43 CFR 3835
- Annual Assessment Work Requirements for Mining Claims 43 CFR 3836
- Acquiring a Delinquent Co-Claimant's Interest in a Mining Claim or Site 43 CFR 3837
- Locating Mining Claims on Stockraising Homestead Act Lands 43 CFR 3838