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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Oregon / Washington

Mining Claims

Minerals Info
Report Mining Claim Fraud

Mining

The federal law governing locatable minerals is the General Mining Law of 1872 (May 10, 1872), which declared all valuable mineral deposits in land belonging to the United States to be free and open to citizens of the United States to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on public domain minerals. In Oregon and Washington, the official office to file mining claim recordation documents under state law is the County Recorder's Office. Much later, the owner of unpatented mining claims and sites were required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 (Sec. 314) to ALSO file with the BLM a COPY of the "official record of the instrument filed or recorded" under state law. In Oregon and Washington, the proper BLM office to file a copy of an official mining claim record is the BLM Oregon State Office located at 1220 SW 3rd Avenue (11th floor), Portland, OR 97204.

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA)

This Act did not amend the 1872 law, but did affect the recordation and maintenance of claims. Persons holding existing claims were required to record their claims with BLM by October 1979, and all new claims were required to be recorded with BLM. FLPMA’s purpose was to provide BLM with information on the locations and number of unpatented mining claims, mill sites, and tunnel sites to determine the names and addresses of current owners, and to remove any cloud of title on abandoned claims.

What is a Mining Claim?

A mining claim is a parcel of land for which the claimant has asserted a right of possession and the right to develop and extract a discovered, valuable, mineral deposit. Locatable minerals include both metallic minerals (gold, silver, lead, etc.) and nonmetallic minerals (fluorspar, asbestos, mica, etc.).

This right does not include exclusive surface rights (see Public Law 84-167) or Occupancy. Activities on a mining claim are limited to prospecting, mining, or processing operations and uses reasonably incident thereto.

Generally, casual use activities, not requiring authorization, do not involve use of mechanized earth moving equipment or explosives and causes no or negligible disturbance, such as hand collecting or digging, or panning.

Surface disturbance that exceeds "casual use" requires authorization of the local BLM Field Office or Forest Service Ranger District Office that administers the land and the State.

Contact the BLM Field Office or Forest Service Ranger District Office before conducting any surface disturbing activities on Federal land.