U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Washington, D.C. 20240
April 7, 2011
In Reply Refer To:
3833/3860 (320) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 04/18/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2011-100
To: All State Directors
From: Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management
Subject: Establishment of New Policy and Procedures to Determine Whether Mining Claims Held Under a “Small Miner” Maintenance Fee Waiver Require Current Year Maintenance Fees After a Transfer of Interest or New Mining Claim Location Notice Is Filed
Program Area: Mining Law Adjudication.
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) establishes new policy and outlines the proper procedures for processing transfers of interest and new notices of location and, after processing, making a determination regarding whether a mining claimant owes current-year maintenance fees for any claim(s) or site(s)  held under a “small miner” maintenance fee waiver (waiver) that was submitted prior to the transfer or new location.
Policy/Action: At the present time, when a transfer of interest is received, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mining law adjudicator only checks the status of the transferred claims to determine if current-year maintenance fees may be due. Under the current procedures, transfers of interest , as they relate to maintenance fee requirements, are processed as follows:
In addition to performing the procedures described above for transfers of interest, the following new procedures must also now be followed. Additionally, the new procedures, beginning with step 3 below, will also be applied when recording new notices of location. The new procedures are:
In most of the scenarios outlined above, maintenance fee payments for 2 assessment years will be due on the same date. In these instances, if insufficient fees are submitted, the adjudicator must apply the following procedures:
Attached are examples of scenarios for the above-described procedures as to when maintenance fee payments are required.
Timeframe: This policy is effective immediately.
Budget Impact: This policy is expected to increase the time that adjudicators spend in processing transfers of interest and notices of location. Where the transferee or locator holds mining claims or sites under a waiver prior to a transfer or new location, this increase in adjudicator workload may be particularly significant. This policy is also expected to cause an increase in voidance decisions and may require additional adjudication resources to defend the resulting appeals.
Background: In May 2009, the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) issued a decision indicating that mining claimants holding mining claims under a small miner waiver are required to pay current year maintenance fees for those claims if at any time after September 1 they acquire mining claims through a transfer of interest such that their total holdings exceed the 10-claim limit and they no longer qualify for a small miner waiver (Randi Rovetto, 177 IBLA 257 (2009)). Since the IBLA’s decision seemed to take a position not explicitly covered by the BLM’s regulations, the BLM petitioned the IBLA for reconsideration. The IBLA denied the BLM’s petition for reconsideration in an Order, which made it clear that, even if “on the date the fees were due” the claimant held 10 or fewer claims or sites and validly filed for a waiver, the claimant was no longer entitled to a waiver for those claims if at any time during the assessment year the claimant was a transferee of mining claims such that the claimant’s holdings exceeded the 10-claim limit. In addition, even though the above-referenced IBLA decision addresses transfers of interest only, the policy reflected in this IM, as it applies to new locations, is a logical extension of the IBLA’s interpretation of when the claimant is no longer entitled to a waiver and when additional fees are due.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The policy contained in this IM will be incorporated into H-3830-1, Administration of Mining Claims.
Coordination: This IM was coordinated through the Solicitor’s Office and the Division of Solid Minerals (WO-320).
Contact: If you have any questions concerning this IM, please contact me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Mitchell Leverette, Chief, Division of Solid Minerals, at 202-912-7113, email address Mitchell_Leverette@blm.gov, or Sonia Santillan at 202-912-7123, email address Sonia_Santillan@blm.gov.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Michael Nedd Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management
 For the purposes of this Instruction Memorandum (IM), mining claims and mill or tunnel sites will all be referred to as claims.
 There has never been a policy put into place to apply the same type of procedures when a new location is received.
 The regulations at 43 CFR 3835.20(b) actually state the annual maintenance fee must be paid by the September 1 following the date the transfer became effective under state law.