Mining Law/Locatable Minerals
There are three basic types of minerals on Federal lands:
1) Locatable (subject to the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended);
2) Leasable (subject to the various Mineral Leasing Acts);
3) Salable (subject to mineral materials disposed of under the Materials Act of 1947, as amended).
These minerals have been defined by Federal laws, regulations, and legal decisions.
General Mining Law of 1872
The General Mining Law of May 10, 1872, as amended (30 U.S.C. § 22-54 and §§ 611-615) is the major Federal law governing locatable minerals. This law allows citizens of the United States the opportunity to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on those Federal lands that are open for mining claim location and patent (open to mineral entry). These mineral deposits include most metallic mineral deposits and certain nonmetallic and industrial minerals. The law sets general standards and guidelines for claiming the possessory right to a valuable mineral deposit discovered during exploration. The General Mining Law allows for the enactment of State laws governing location and recording to mining claims and sites that are consistent with Federal law. The Federal regulations implementing the General Mining Law are found at Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Groups 3700 and 3800.
The General Mining Law of 1872, as amended, has five elements:
1) Discovery of a valuable mineral deposit;
2) Location of mining claims and sites;
3) Recordation of mining claims and sites;
4) Annual maintenance (annual assessment work or annual fees) for mining claims and sites;
5) Mineral patents.
The BLM's Mining Law Administration program involves mining claim recordation, annual maintenance (annual assessment work or annual fees), mineral patents and surface management.
The last section (More Information) provides additional sources on the following topics:
• Geology and mineral resources of a particular area
• Mining and milling techniques
• Surface protection and reclamation requirements
• Other Federal and State legal requirements