Mining Law/Locatable Minerals

 Mining Law/Locatable Minerals


There are three basic types of minerals on Federal lands:
1) Locatable (subject to the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended);
2) Leasable (subject to the various Mineral Leasing Acts);  
3) Salable (subject to mineral materials disposed of under the Materials Act of 1947, as amended).

These minerals have been defined by Federal laws, regulations, and legal decisions.

General Mining Law of 1872

The General Mining Law of May 10, 1872, as amended (30 U.S.C. § 22-54 and §§ 611-615) is the major Federal law governing locatable minerals.  This law allows citizens of the United States the opportunity to explore for, discover, and purchase certain valuable mineral deposits on those Federal lands that are open for mining claim location and patent (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 General 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 General Mining Law are found at Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Groups 3700 and 3800.

The General Mining Law of 1872, as amended, 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;  
5) Mineral patents.

The BLM's Mining Law Administration program involves mining claim recordation, annual maintenance (annual assessment work or annual fees), mineral patents and surface management.

Prior to Disturbance See Surface Management Notice (3809) and Reclamation)


Federal Land Policy and 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 BLM by October 1979, and all new claims were required to be recorded with BLM. FLPMA’s purpose was to provide BLM with information on the locations and number of unpatented mining claims, mill sites, and tunnel sites to determine the names and addresses of current owners, and to remove any cloud of title on abandoned claims.

What is a Mining Claim?

A mining claim is a parcel of land for which the claimant has asserted a right of possession and the right to develop and extract a discovered, valuable, mineral deposit. This right does not include exclusive surface rights (see Public Law 84-167).

Contact the Utah State Office, Bureau of Land Management:

Utah State Office Address:
440 West 200 South, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

(801) 539-4001  Fax Machine - (801)539-4237