Mining Law of 1872
The federal law governing locatable minerals is the 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 exploration and purchase. This law provides citizens of the United States the opportunity to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on federal lands that are open for mining location and patent (open to mineral entry).
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920
This law provided for the leasing of minerals from public lands including oil, gas, coal and other non-energy leasable minerals such as phosphates and sodium. It requires that a royalty be paid on amounts mined and sold.
Materials Act of 1947
This law provides for the disposal of mining materials on public lands, both saleable and leasable. Under this Act, some “common variety” minerals, such as sand and gravel, are subject to sale as opposed to rents and royalties.
Mining and Mineral Policy of 1970
This law declares that it is the continuing policy of the federal government to foster and encourage private enterprise in the development of a stable domestic minerals industry and the orderly and economic development of domestic mineral resources. This act includes all minerals, including sand and gravel, geothermal, coal, and oil and gas.
Stock Raising Homestead Act Amendment of April 16, 1993
Stock Raising Homestead Act (SRHA) lands are different from other federal lands in that the United States owns the mineral estate, but not the surface estate. Patents issued under the SRHA and Homestead Act entries patented under the SRHA reserve the mineral estate to the United States along with the right to enter, mine, and remove any reserved minerals that may be present in the mineral estate.
Federal Land Policy & Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA)
This Act did not amend the 1872 law, but did affect the recordation and maintenance of claims. Persons holding existing claims were required to record their claims with the BLM, and all new claims and sites were required to be recorded with the BLM. The law gave the BLM information on the location and number of unpatented mining claims, mill sites, and tunnel sites; helped determine the names and addresses of current owners; and helped remove any cloud of title on abandoned claims.