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Minerals and Mining

Mining of Locatable Minerals

Citizens of the United States and corporations organized under state laws may locate mining claims on public lands under the Mining Law of 1872 and associated rules at Parts 3700 and 3800 of Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations. For a claim to be valid, the claimant must be able to demonstrate a valuable deposit of minerals in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and extensive case law. Locatable minerals include both metalliferous minerals such as gold, silver lead, zinc, etc. and non-metalliferous minerals such as fluorspar, gypsum, asbestos, mica, etc. Common varieties of mineral materials such as sand, gravel, stone, cinders, and ordinary clay are not locatable under the mining law but may be sold by BLM under contract or permit. Disposal of salable minerals is governed by rules at Part 3600 of Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations. For more information on mineral sales, see the section of this website dealing with Mineral Materials and Community Pits.
Although locatable minerals such as gold, silver, gypsum, and rare metals are known to exist throughout portions of Washington County, Utah, there has been no significant production of such minerals in the county since the late 1980s, except for the Goldstrike Mine. Historically, extensive mining took place at Silver Reef near Leeds, Utah, at the Goldstrike mine in the Bull Valley Mountains, and at the Apex mine in the Beaver Dam Mountains. Numerous unpatented mining claims currently exist in the western portions of the county and above the Hurricane Cliffs and several other areas of historic production or mineral potential which demonstrate a continuing interest in exploration and potential development. Presently, the U.S. Congress has placed a moratorium on the issuance of new patents on claims located under the mining law until members of Congress determine what, if any, changes need to be made on how mining claims are to be managed and whether royalties should be paid to the United States on minerals extracted from the public lands.
Public lands within the congressionally designated Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness Area are closed to entry under the mining law. Public lands within the boundary of the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve are closed to mining entry by a land and mineral withdrawal put in place on August 10, 2000 through Public Land Order 7460. Other public lands in Washington County may be temporarily closed to mining entry through various mineral segregations associated with on-going land sales, exchanges, or conveyances under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. Public land records should be checked before filing new claims to verify that the lands are open to entry. Mining claimants operating in the St. George Field Office must file new claims with the Washington County Recorder and BLM’s State Office in Salt Lake City and make yearly filings and fee payments thereafter to keep the claims in good standing. For on-the-ground operations involving surface disturbance beyond casual use, claimants must file with the Field Office minerals staff, either a Mining Notice or a Plan of Operations, depending on the nature, location, and extent of planned activity. For a complete description of the procedures to follow, please go to BLM’s Utah State Office Mining Laws/Locatable Minerals website.