Locatable Minerals

Minerals Info
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Locatable Minerals Definition

The General Mining Law of 1872, as amended, opened the public lands of the United States to mineral acquisition by the location and maintenance of mining claims. Mineral deposits subject to acquisition in this manner are generally referred to as "locatable minerals." Locatable minerals include both metallic minerals (gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, etc.), nonmetallic minerals (fluorspar, mica, certain limestones and gypsum, tantalum, heavy minerals in placer form, and gemstones) and certain uncommon variety minerals. It is very difficult to prepare a complete list of locatable minerals because the history of the law has resulted in a definition of minerals that includes economics. more>>

Mining Claims

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. more>>

Locating and Recording a Mining Claim/Site

The location of a mining claim involves a series of steps. You first need to determine the exact location of the area you are interested on the ground as defined by the Public Land Survey System (township, range, section). You may purchase maps or use several on-line sites to assist you in identifying the legal description. more>>


Most Federal surface management agencies, as well as individual states, have regulations to protect the surface resources during exploration and mining activities. Mining operations on public lands must comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Surface Management of Mining Operations


Reclamation of disturbed sites is a requirement after completion of exploration and mining activities.

Environmental Assessment Requirements

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 is a basic charter for the protection of the environment.


It is the policy of the OR/WA BLM that all modifications to an approved Plan of Operations regarding closure will be reviewed and approved by the Authorized Officer under 43 CFR 3809.

Mineral Patents

Mineral Patent Moratorium: Effective October 1, 1994, Congress imposed a moratorium on spending appropriated funds for the acceptance or processing of mineral patent applications that had not yet received First Half Final Certificate (FHFC) or were not in Washington, D. C. for secretarial review of FHFC on or before September 30, 1994. Until the moratorium is lifted or otherwise expires, the BLM will not accept any new patent applications.