Locatable Minerals (Hardrock and Placer Mining)

The Mining Law of 1872, as amended, is the major Federal law governing locatable minerals. This law allows U.S. citizens the opportunity to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on Federal lands that are open for mining claim location (open to mineral entry). 

These mineral deposits include most metallic mineral deposits and certain nonmetallic and industrial minerals. The law sets general standards and guidelines for claiming the possessory right to a valuable mineral deposit discovered during exploration. 

The Mining Law allows for the enactment of state laws governing location and recording to mining claims and sites that are consistent with Federal law. The Federal regulations implementing the Mining Law, including fee schedules, are found at Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Groups 3700 and 3800.

The Mining Law has five elements:

  1. Discovery of a valuable mineral deposit; 
  2. Location of mining claims and sites; 
  3. Recordation of mining claims and sites; 
  4. Annual maintenance (annual assessment work or annual fees) for mining claims and sites, and 
  5. Mineral patents.