Claimant’s Who File the Annual Maintenance Fee (MF) Must: Include a document listing the claim/site name(s) and BLM serial number(s) for which the fees are being paid. MF required information.
Notice to Claimants with Placer Claims
In the Department of the Interior's annual appropriations act for Fiscal Year 2012, Congress changed the way that maintenance fees for placer mining claims are assessed. Instead of charging the maintenance fee on a per-claim basis, Congress stated that the fee (currently $140) should be assessed on each 20-acre parcel of a placer claim or portion thereof. The BLM is currently working on regulations to implement this change in the maintenance fee statute for new and existing placer claims. Until these regulations are published, the BLM would prefer that you do not voluntarily send in initial or annual maintenance fee payments at the adjusted rate. If these regulations are published before September 1, 2012, the BLM will notify holders of placer mining claims who timely filed their maintenance fees for the 2013 assessment year and give them an opportunity to pay the adjusted fees or relinquish the acreage in excess of 20 acres. Please note that in order to be given the opportunity to cure, you must timely pay the maintenance fees for your placer mining claims for the 2013 assessment year.
Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification-- waiver form and requirements on form.
Claimant’s Who File the Waiver Certification Must:
- Complete the assessment work for the current assessment year prior to September 1st.
- All owners must have an interest in 10 or less claims/sites in the U.S. on September 1st.
- If the claimant exceeds the limit, the claimant must file a relinquishment or transfer ownership on or before September 1st for those claims that take you over the 10-claim limit.
- The waiver certification must include the claim/site name(s) and BLM serial number(s) that you wish to maintain. The name, address, and original signature of all the owners. See Maintenance Fee Payment Waiver Certification (Form 3830-2)
- On or before December 30, you must file an affidavit of assessment work or notice of intent to hold (see annual assessment work below) with the BLM State Office along with the $10 processing fee per claim/site. Required information on POL & NOI. NOI required information.
- Complete the assessment work for the assessment year for which a waiver is claimed.
(NOTE: IF YOU PURCHASE, INHERIT, OR OTHERWISE OBTAIN MINING CLAIMS OR SITES THAT ARE SUBJECT TO A WAIVER: YOU MUST ALSO QUALIFY FOR THE WAIVER IN ORDER FOR BLM TO CONTINUE TO APPLY THE WAIVER TO THE CLAIMS/SITES YOU HAVE RECEIVED IN A TRANSFER, OR IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR THE WAIVER YOU MUST PAY THE ANNUAL MAINTENANCE FEE BY THE SEPTEMBER 1 FOLLOWING THE DATE THE TRANSFER BECAME EFFECTIVE UNDER STATE LAW.)
Annual Assessment Work
To keep a possessory interest in the claim or site, the claimant must perform a minimum amount of labor or make improvements worth $100 each year. Since 1992, the claimant may pay the annual maintenance fee per claim or site in lieu of the annual assessment work. See Filings and Fees.
Assessment work is work or labor performed in good faith that tends to develop the claim and directly helps in the extraction of minerals. Geological, geophysical, and geochemical surveys may qualify as assessment work for a limited period. However, a requirement for use of these surveys is the filing of a detailed report, including basic findings. Most State laws require the annual filing of an affidavit of assessment work with the proper county. Also, FLPMA requires the filing of an affidavit of annual assessment work with both the local county offices and the proper BLM State Offices. See below Examples of Work that Qualify or Do Not Qualify as Assessment Work.
Assessment work is not a requirement for owners of mill or tunnel sites. However, they must file a notice of intention to hold the site(s) with the BLM. For mill sites and tunnel sites, filing with the county is not required.
Performance of assessment work must be within a certain period referred to as the assessment year. The assessment year begins at 12:01 a.m., September 1 and ends at 12:01 a.m., September 1, of the next year (see PL 110-161, Dec. 26, 2007, 121 Stat. 2101 and Section 28 of Title 30 United States Code).
Performance of assessment work need not occur during the first assessment year of location. However, for claims located between September 1 and December 31, the claimant must file a notice of intention to hold the claim with the BLM by December 30 of the following calendar year. The claimant must file either:
A notice of intention to hold (for sites or for the year that claims are located) or
Evidence of annual assessment work in the proper BLM State Office on or before December 30 of the calendar year following the calendar year of the location of the claim, mill site, or tunnel site.
Notice of Intention to Hold
A notice of intention to hold (NOITH or NOI) a claim or site is a letter or a notice signed by the claimant(s) or their agent(s). It should include the BLM serial number(s) assigned to each claim/site(s), any change in mailing address of the claimant(s), and a reason why assessment work is not required. If used to notify the county and the BLM of an approved or pending petition for deferment of annual assessment work, it must include a reference to the decision on file with the BLM (by date granted and serial number) or the pending petition (by date f filing and serial number). Required information on NOI.
Deferment of Assessment Work
A claimant may apply for a deferment of assessment work. The petition must be filed in advance of the September 1st Maintenance Fee requirement due date. The BLM may grant a temporary deferment of assessment work under certain conditions (see 43 CFR 3836.20). These conditions concern denial of legal access to a mining claim or other legal impediments. The claimant must, therefore, initiate actions to gain access. Such a deferment may not exceed 1 year but may be renewed for an additional year upon request. There is no particular form for a petition for deferment of assessment work. The petition can be a letter to the BLM signed by at least one of the owners of the claim. It must fully explain the actions taken to initiate access and the legal obstacles preventing access. A copy of the notice to the public recorded with the county must accompany the petition. The petition should include the BLM mining claim serial number(s) and the assessment year to be deferred.
The petition for a deferment must be filed with the BLM well in advance of September 1st due date. A nonrefundable processing fee must accompany a petition for deferment of assessment work. See Filings and Fees.
Claimants that are granted a deferment must file with the BLM the NOITH on or before December 30 (not December 31).
The claimant must file the deferment and the NOITH with the county.
Failure to file the NOITH results in the claim/site being abandoned and void by operation of law (effective December 30th).
Examples of Work That Qualify As Assessment Work
- A building that benefits and improves the claim. Bryan V. McCraig, 10 Colo 309, 15 P 413 (1887).
- Reasonable value of meals to miners who receive board in addition to salary. Fredricks v. Klauser, 52 Or 110; 96 P 679 (1908).
- Value of blasting supplies. Id.
- Construction of road to mining claim. U.S. v. 9,947.71 Acres of land, More or less, in Clark County, State of Nev., 220 F. Supp. 328 (DC Nev 1963); Silliman v. Powell, Utah 642 P2d 388, 393 (1982).
- Maintenance of access roads to mining claim. Pinkerton v. Moore, 66 NM 11, 340 P2d 844 (1959).
- Sinking shafts and running tunnels or drifts. James v. Krook, 42 Ariz 322 (1933).
- Installation of mining machinery or fixtures. Id.
- Employment of a watchman when necessary to protect structures or property used in developing a claim. Ingersolt v. Scott, 13 Ariz 165, 108 P 460 (1910).
- Drilling and removal of samples from a mining claim. Eveleigh v. Darneille, 81 Cal Reptr 301 (Cal App 1969).
Examples of Work or Improvements That Do Not Qualify As Annual Labor on a Mining Claim
- Removal of water from a mine for inspection of prospective buyer. Evalina Gold Mining Co. v. Yosemite Gold Mine Co., 15 Cal App 714, 115 P 946 (1911).
- Erection of a house outside the boundaries of a claim for the shelter of miners. Remington v. Baudit, 6 Mont 138, 9 P 819 (1886).
- Eating utensils, groceries, and bedding. Fredricks v. Klauser, 52 Or 110, 96 P 679 (1908).
- Amount paid for horses used in development work; however value of their use will qualify. Id.
- Payment for iron rails or tools, but their value in developing the mine may qualify. Id.
- Material taken to a claim but not used. Id.
- Sampling and assaying. Bishop v. Baisley, 28 Or 119, 41 P936 (1895).
- Reconnaissance surveys of mining claims. Pinkerton v. Moore, 66 NM 11, 340 P2d 844 (1959).
- Use of a claim to deposit wastes from other claims and building a flume to carry tailings to claim. Jackson v. Roby, 109 US 440 (1883).
- Employment of a watchman to prevent relocation. Justice Mining Co. v. Barclay, 82 F 554 (CC Nev 1897); or where there is no valuable improvement or machinery to protect. James v. Krook, 42 Ariz 322, 25 P2d 1026 (1933).
Access Roads and Qualifies
The construction of access roads as well as improvement of existing access roads qualifies as assessment work, even though the road is not on the claims. For example, the cost of installation of water bars on an existing road to prevent erosion and reduce the need to rehabilitate or maintain the road is sufficient improvement to qualify as assessment work. United States v Herr, 130 IBLA 349, 365-65 (1994).
From: Mineral Law, by Terry S. Maley