U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
September 24, 2010
In Reply Refer To:
3809/3720 (320) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 09/29/2010
Instruction Memorandum No. 2010-211
To: All Field Office Officials
From: Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management
Subject: Procedures for Identifying and Notifying Claimants on Active Mining Claims when Mitigating Abandoned Mine Hazards on Active Mining Claims
Program Area: Surface Management and Abandoned Mine Lands (AML).
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) instructs field office personnel in the proper procedures for identifying and notifying mining claimants when mitigating abandoned mine land features on active mining claims. In addition, field offices are notified of a public outreach effort to claimants whose mining claims may contain AML features within their boundaries.
Policy/Action: Previously the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued IM-2010-045, Guidance for the Mitigation of Abandoned Mine Hazards on Active Mining Claims, to inform field personnel of the BLM’s responsibility and obligation to mitigate abandoned mine hazards on active mining claims. When BLM field office personnel have determined that a mine working/hazard/feature poses an imminent threat to public health and the environment, IM-2010-045 requires that BLM field personnel make a reasonable effort to inform known mining claimants at a site of any planned mitigation activities before mitigation begins.
Prior to conducting mitigation activities at a site, BLM personnel must determine whether there are any mining claims at the site and whether any such claims are “active.” For purposes of this IM, an “active claim” is a claim (1) which is being maintained by payment of annual maintenance fees; (2) under which operations, exploration, casual use, or reclamation have been or are being currently conducted as such terms are defined by 43 CFR 3809.5; (3) for which someone is asserting the right to conduct such activities in the future; or (4) under which someone is objecting to proposed mitigation activities at a site as being inconsistent with their alleged rights as claimants. Accordingly, BLM personnel must first conduct a mining claim record search. Field offices must use the Legacy Rehost System 2000 (LR2000) database report entitled “MC Geo Report” to determine the existence of an active mining claim. To determine the address of record, mining claim serial numbers are entered into the “MC Serial Register Page – Live” report.
Both reports describe the location of the mining claims by township, section, and range. The legal description of the mining claim is listed next to the mining claim’s serial number. It is important to note that within LR2000, a mining claim’s geographic location is usually described as a 160-acre quarter-section. Mining claims are normally 20 acres to 160 acres. To determine if the AML working/hazard/feature is within the boundaries of the mining claim, rather than somewhere else inside the quarter section, the location map should be requested from the state office. The claim’s boundaries can then be plotted on a map to determine its location relative to the abandoned mine hazard. Assistance from the field office geologist or cadastral surveyor may be required.
Once active mining claims with AML sites have been identified, BLM field personnel must notify the claimants in accordance with the provisions of IM-2010-045. IM-2010-045 gives detailed instructions as to (1) how field offices are to work with claimants in the event that abandoned mine hazards are identified on active mining claims and (2) the actions that the BLM must take following the notification to known claimants of planned mitigation activities at a site.
In an effort to inform mining claimants of the BLM’s policy, the Solid Minerals Division (WO-320), Minerals and Realty Directorate, will disseminate a “General Notice” to mining claimants of record whose mining claims were identified as containing an abandoned mine hazard. The AML hazard locations were obtained from the BLM’s Abandoned Mine Site Cleanup Module. The notice informs claimants of BLM policy as contained in IM-2010-045. Under IM-2010-045, if a claimant maintains an abandoned mine hazard solely for the purpose of preserving access for future mining or exploration activities, then the claimant’s use of the site exceeds casual use; such use requires compliance with 43 CFR 3809.10, including the submittal of a financial guarantee. Further, the notice will remind claimants of the BLM’s commitment to the mitigation of abandoned mine hazards on public lands through the Fix A Shaft Today! Program, also known as FAST!.
Dissemination of the notice will encourage claimants to contact local field offices if their activities include access to or use of an abandoned mine feature that has not already been authorized by the BLM under 43 CFR Subpart 3809. To assist with claimants’ potential questions and concerns, the BLM Washington Office has prepared a document entitled, “Questions and Answers About Abandoned Mine Hazards on Mining Claims,” and has posted this to our website at http://www.blm.gov/amhquestions. A copy of this document has been included with this IM. Field offices should provide public room staff with the information necessary, including a list of appropriate office contacts, to assist the public with questions they may have in regards to this notice.
Timeframe: Effective immediately.
Budget Impact: There will be a monetary impact for the mailing of the notices that will be funded by WO-320. There will be a modest cost incurred by states for labor due to the expected increase in public contact.
Background: The BLM’s Abandoned Mine Land program is responsible for inventorying and mitigating abandoned mine hazards on BLM administered public lands. In May 2009, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Audit Report No. C-IN-BLM-0011-2008, entitled “Bureau of Land Management – Mining Claimant Administration.” The OIG recommended that the BLM develop and implement an IM addressing the following: (1) How offices are to identify the location of mining claims and respective claimants; (2) How offices should notify claimants and work with them to ensure mitigation of hazards; and (3) How BLM field offices should proceed if claimants do not exist, cannot be found, or do not mitigate hazards after being notified (see Attachment 3, Audit Report No. C-IN-BLM-0011-2008). This IM addresses the first recommendation noted above. Recommendations 2 and 3 were addressed by IM-2010-045 which was released earlier this year.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: No manuals or handbooks are affected.
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with the Solicitor’s Office and the Division of Environmental Quality and Protection. Review was provided by State AML leads and selected State Mining Law Administration leads.
Contact: If you have any questions concerning the content of this IM, please contact me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Adam Merrill, Solid Minerals Division (WO-320), at 202-912-7044 or email Adam_Merrill@blm.gov, or Erinn Shirley, Environmental Quality and Protection Division (WO-280), at 202-912-7132 or email Erinn_Shirley@blm.gov.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Timothy R. Spisak Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management