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Small Scale Mining, truth vs myth
CP
post Jan 29 2010, 12:01 AM
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Master Mucker!
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This thread will help dispell many of the myths that one finds floating around when surfing the internet and or talking with officials as prospectors in the field concerning the small scale miner. Over the years these are some we've encountered and felt needed dispelled or answered.
More will be added as we run across them or you can add your's that you found and know is just not accurate information.

To learn more about anything you read in this post or to look up other laws and regulations you wish to find, just click on over to the Colorado Prospector Forum's section
Prospecting and Mining Laws, Regulations etc.
We've quoted many many of these for your convenience as well as easy links to follow when more are needed to be found as refered from quotes directly from the laws themselves.

So here we go, hopefully this information helps out with many questions to the new and old prospetors alike. emoticon-misc-004.gif

CP


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Does the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management own the FS/BLM lands or locatable minerals?

No, the United States citizens own the public lands and the FS and BLM over see their use/regulation via the USC (United States Code) laws and CFR's (Code of Federal Regulations).

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Are rockhounding and prospecting related?

Yes, rockhounding is prospecting which is part of the basic first steps of mining. Rockhounding/prospecting for samples of any minerals in the field, require that you as the prospector know you are in fact on open land or have permission from the claim owner, should you be on a mining claim.

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Can you access a mine site that looks abandoned without any recent activity?

No, you can not access any mine site just because it appears to be abandoned, you must first find out if the claim is still active, patented etc prior to accessing the site and get permission if needed when still owned.

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Can you collect minerals off the surface while hiking across location claims or patented claims?

No, you may not collect minerals while traversing across any claims as they are private propertay and this would be classified as mineral tresspass and theft.

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Are road right of ways open to prospect?

No, generally road right of ways are not open to prospect as the claim owner would still own those minerals as well. Road easements do not over ride mineral ownership rights.

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If the claim isn't marked or fenced off, can I go prospecting there?

No, as a field prospector it is your responsibilty to know whether or not you are on a claim and to respect that claim owners claim in the field, just as you would expect other prospectors do as a claim owner yourself at your claim.
Federal law dictates markers (corners and discovery/location cert.) must be marked on a claim, but there is no requirement to let the genreal public know via fences or signage.

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Can states or local government entities over ride or supercede federal law's pertaining to mining on FS or BLM lands?

No, they definately can not! In fact the law states that although states laws may be more restrictive in some cases than federal law, but when mining is concerned, they must follow all of the guidelines found in 43CFR3809.

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Can I make money every day I prospect vs the gas money I spend etc?

No, realistically starting out as a new prospector, you will more than likely not make your gas money back out trying to learn. But with time, diligent work, thorough research and proper field techniques you could in fact make a profit mining. Millions of americans make their entire living from mining, and thank goodness for every one of them too!

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Who regulates mining claims on FS lands?

The BLM regulates all mining activities on public lands, the FS is "delegated the authority" to regulate surface use and occupancy only on FS lands. When mining is concerned, the FS must follow mining laws and confer with BLM on all decisions for mining claims and operations.

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Do I need a permit to prospect or collect minerals if there are no claims on this site? (NF or BLM)

No, as a citizen you have the right and you do not need any permit to prospect and collect your own mineral samples, and also to further those discoveries and develop them within the public lands.

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Are state forests the same as national forests?

No, definately not. State forests are run by the state itself and are not part of the federal public national forest lands. Laws and regulations for national forest lands do not apply to state forests.

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Are mining claims and laws the same from one state to the next on FS or BLM lands?

Yes they are. There are several laws to insure that not only are they consistently applied nationwide and the federal mineral policy accounted for, but that if they are varied, they still must comply with the mining laws and the citizens rights to prospect and mine.

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Can government officials at any level give me actual legal advise with claims, paperwork, or laws pertaining to them? (BLM, FS, state or county)

No, in fact the law states they are forbidden from giving any type of legal advise. Do not believe it just because you "heard" it, find out for sure what the truth is for yourself.

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Do I need to refill or reclaim my test digs as a small scale miner in the field prospecting on open land?

Yes, absolutely, you need to refill any test holes you have dug for sampling unless you will be back in less than 24 hours to do further testing in the same hole. This does not apply to mining claim owners when working their claims, those guidelines are much different than that of the prospector on ground without claims.


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If a mine operation site has been reclaimed, can I go prospecting there?

No, reclamation is supposed to be done by miners as a final step to completion of their operations. These reclamations often are costly and are always designed to look natural. Digging a reclaimed site is not only destroying the mines actual work, but is also tresspassing private property, unless you've gotten permission first of course.

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When I asked the Forest Service office where I could prospect, they said "If there's not a fence or sign, you should be ok."......can I trust that and go ahead out in the field to prospect?

No, absolutely not. Although that person at the counter may have been very helpful in the office, their word of mouth is not accurate information for you to use in the field prospecting.

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All the ground worth claiming has been claimed previously. True of false?

False, there are millions of acres unclaimed and with new technology breakthroughs, more and more minerals will be used for things like ecologically friendly cars (REE's & PGM's). Also, all 50 states still mine something today and we all use 1000's of mined products everyday.

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Do I need to ask permission from the FS or BLM to go out prospecting and collecting samples?

No, it is our right as citizens to do so as stated by law. You only need to comply with further laws/regulations during operations which will "create a significant surface resource disturbance".

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Do I need to file a claim first to use a sluice, pan or use any hand carried prospecting equipment?

No, absolutely not. Hand carried prospecting equipment does not require any special authorization nor will you create any significant disturbance using hand carried prospecting equipment.

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Are there taxes or fees that claim owners pay for claims every year?

Yes, although different for patented or location in the fact that taxes are paid on patented/deeded land, where as location claims pay a yearly fee to maintain the files. Some counties will impose what they call a tax per year on location claims but legally these are more acurately fees and not tax, as there has been no "mineral survey" to determine value for county property tax purposes.
For location claims yearly fees, small scale miners (owning 10 claims or less), have the option of filing a waiver stating there yearly value of fees expended during their years work. Claim owners with more than 10 claims do not have the small scale waiver options and must pay the fees.

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Can I prospect in a wilderness area or road less area?

Yes you certainly can as long as there is no claim exsisting there. The federal law states that roadless or wilderness areas do not prohibit prospecting.

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I've found a closed claim on LR2000 or Geocom or etc......can I file a claim there now even though I've not been to the site or prospected on it?

No, at this point you can not file a valid claim. You must first make your "discovery" to even "stake" your claim, both of which are steps in which you have visited and prospected the site. Filing without those steps is actually filing an invalid claim by two violations of the 1872 mining law's intent. Real prospectors/miners call this "paper filing" and it's very much frowned upon.
If you are considering buying a claim, make sure someone hasn't just paper filed as described. Use caution and verify the claim is in fact valid, this is a common scam.
Mining law states the 1 and only reason you can file and hold claims is for mining. Filing on paper to resell has nothing to do with any part of actual mining.

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Can location claims be closed off to the public with fences and or gates?

Yes they sure can and often are while under working plans of operations as a precautionary saftey measure to the general public. They will also not always be on the claims perimeters but only surrounding the actual workings at that time, it's still your responsibilty in the field to know where the actual boundries are and respect them.

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If I find an old drift (tunnel) and or tailings pile can I prospect/collect samples from there as long as it appears no ones been there in years?

No, legally the drift, all minerals within, and the tailings are still very much the claim owners property as well as a very dangerous place to be within the drift tunnel. STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE!!
Contrary to popular belief, you still need the claim owners permission to access or prospect these tailings.
If there is no exsisting valid claim then you can prospect there.

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bottledigger
post Jan 29 2010, 06:07 AM
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Very good info CP. Thanks for posting for all to read.
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CP
post Jan 29 2010, 01:46 PM
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Master Mucker!
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Hi Bottledigger, Thank you and you are very welcome. I hope many more folks find this thread useful in the future too.

CP


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Coalbunny
post Feb 1 2010, 07:21 PM
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Hey Denise, you think we'll ever convince Dan to start wearing either a MSHA approved bumpcap or a OSHA/MSHA approved hard hat the next time he goes underground?

Heck, even if it's just a motorcycle helmet, SOMETHING is better than nothing.

I've seen off-roaders go into mines, barely nick their unprotected heads, and 'cause it's a head thing it bleeds like there ain't no tomorrow. THEN they whine "WAHHHH! We gotta close off ALL mines 'cause they is dainnnngurrrrrus! Yeah! Lawdy yeah! Uh huh! Uh huh!".

Instead we need to put a bounty on their heads and have an open bag limit.....

Sorry about the rant!

IMO we need to brain storm and then define what small scale mining is versus recreational mining. Then present it to the feds and state. From what I know in the work I've done for the USFS, if we don't work with them on mutually agreed terms, the fed's'll make their own and we won't like them.


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Today's socio-political climate is rock solid proof that Adam and Eve weren't prospectors.
If they were they'd have eaten the snake instead of the apple and we'd still be in heaven....
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CP
post Feb 2 2010, 01:01 PM
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Ok, Ok, Coalbunny biggrin.gif You got me on that one, I'll never live that picture down. laught16.gif
You are absolutely correct too, I should have been wearing my brain bucket that day.

On small scale mining vs recreational prospector..........You are right we do need to brain storm.
This friday's CP chat discussion is for just that topic too, I think we as prospectors / miners have alot going for us already in the law, as do folks who view themselves as more a recreationalist. Understanding this is what we need to do first, understanding the exsisting law before we try changing it. Sometimes when we propose to change things without knowing all the facts, there could be negative consequences which could have been avoided all together if we'd only understood the exsisting law first. When we understand more, we can then pass that education along to the ill informed officials who should already know it. wacko.gif biggrin.gif

See everyone there friday with your thoughts.

CP


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Coalbunny
post Feb 3 2010, 09:03 AM
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Unless you are able, or willing, to prove that your mining is benefiting you according to the prudent man rule (covering your basic needs), you'll likely be a recreational miner.

The BLM tried that with me some years back, and I had & still have documents that show that mining is my primary source of income. Even then they balked at it claiming I had to have employees to qualify as small scale mining. Every time you meet the BLMs standards, they go and change them, out of reach. And each time you reach it, they change them again.


--------------------
Today's socio-political climate is rock solid proof that Adam and Eve weren't prospectors.
If they were they'd have eaten the snake instead of the apple and we'd still be in heaven....
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russau
post Feb 4 2010, 07:31 AM
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Carl i disagree with your statement about "recreational miner" ! and you dont need any employees to be a small scale miner! the prudent rule law dont apply while your prospecting for a spot! once you find a spot and try to file a claim for it, then the prudent rule applies! a small scale miner can go broke prospecting for a good spot. while prospecting ,hes not mining, hes looking. see the difference?
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CP
post Feb 4 2010, 09:10 AM
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Prospecting is a step of mining in that it is one of the first steps prior to filing a claim and working a mine.

The prudant man rule doesn't come into play unless one is in the process to perfect a location claim for patenting as I understand it, and it's whether or not a "profit" has been made from the mine/operation.

Small scale miner or recreational prospector, what difference and why is the chat topic for tomorrow night too, hope to see everyone there. 6 pm MST.

CP


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Coalbunny
post Feb 6 2010, 09:31 PM
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It's not my opinion, Russ & Dan. I have been told that by the BLM several times before.


--------------------
Today's socio-political climate is rock solid proof that Adam and Eve weren't prospectors.
If they were they'd have eaten the snake instead of the apple and we'd still be in heaven....
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russau
post Feb 7 2010, 05:47 AM
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well we all know the BLM and the FS like to add/change/alter anything to make their beleifs what they want. but it is up to us to correct their misbeleifs/understandings/and waco agendas with the true/valid facts ,not what they want to try to force feed us!
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CP
post Feb 7 2010, 08:15 AM
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I understand Coalbunny, sometimes we get told things from officials that sounds maybe right but without looking ourselves it's hard to make that call. biggrin.gif

Lets look at what is posted on the BLM website for the "Prudent man rule"
Quoting from their page.......
QUOTE
The Prudent Man Rule was first defined in Castle v Womble, 19 LD 455 (1894), where the Secretary of the Interior held that: "Where minerals have been found and the evidence is of such a character that a person of ordinary prudence would be justified in the further expenditure of his labor and means, with a reasonable prospect of success, in developing a valuable mine, the requirements of the statute have been met."


You can find more information at the BLM's mining law page which is also easily found on our prospecting links page in the government links section.


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ASTROBLEME
post Feb 7 2010, 01:02 PM
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Don't confuse the "prudent man" concept with "sleeping on your rights"...

CP is spot on with the comment about the prudent man rule being taken into account only when one applies for patent. Until that patent application is made, a prudent man should make the effort to file claim, work the site and exclude others from the claim until such time as a discovery is made. Then the discovery is subjected to the prudent man rule to determine if a patent is in order. Perhaps there is a mineral discovery, but the claim would not be economical for a prudent man to pursue. Then the patent would not be allowed.

If a prospector "sleeps on his rights" by not staking a claim and following through with the filing process in the county and BLM, then another prospector can enter the land against the first... since the first didn't take the required steps towards the prudent man concept. You should always act "prudently" when you are following up on a good mineral showing. Stake the claim if you want the protection of the law against others (including the government since it can remove public lands rapidly with a process called withdrawal). If at such time as you decide the claim doesnít have value to you, you can abandon the claim simply by sending a letter to BLM or by not paying the lease fees or submitting an acceptable small minerís exemption. I have seen many square miles claimed by diamond prospecting companies before they even take samples or properly prospect the area. These blanket claims still protect them while they follow through with the act of making a discovery.

A person (or corporation) can file a claim after staking and work it without going to patent. Patenting is not illegal yet, it isn't being done due to the government not funding a mineral surveyor position. Until such time as a Mineral Surveyor is made available, the federal government is not processing applications for patent. In fact, most people or corporations do not patent mineral claims. It is more cost effective to avoid the additional taxation that comes with a patent. The patent gives the claim holder no additional mineral rights...only the other land rights (with the exception of ditch and canal rights-of-way).

Of course, I am not an attorney or legal expert. These are just my opinions formulated over many years of prospecting, staking, claiming and mining. If in doubt, I would suggest you seek the help of an attorney to make sure you don't get caught "sleeping on your rights". If you don't exercise the rights that are available under the law, you don't really have a right...or a claim. cry.gif
ASTROBLEME


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"Some day this crater is going to be a greatly talked about place, and if the above credit is due, as is certainly the case, I would like to have it generally known for the sake of the children." Daniel Moreau Barringer 2/1/1912 in a letter about the Barringer Meteorite Crater, Arizona USA
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Forestwalker
post Feb 7 2010, 04:24 PM
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You can still get claims patented?


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ASTROBLEME
post Feb 7 2010, 08:55 PM
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QUOTE (Forestwalker @ Feb 7 2010, 04:24 PM) *
You can still get claims patented?


The Secretary of the Interior issued Secretarial Order 3163 effective October 1, 1994 placing a moratorium on BLM from accepting or processing new mineral patent applications. This moratorium is renewed annually by Congress as part of their review of the Interior Appropriations Acts. Patent applications prior to the effective date are still being processed.

There is a continued lobby effort to repeal the 1994 action.

ASTROBLEME


--------------------
Annual Dues Paying Member Since 2008

Tonko Mining Company

"Some day this crater is going to be a greatly talked about place, and if the above credit is due, as is certainly the case, I would like to have it generally known for the sake of the children." Daniel Moreau Barringer 2/1/1912 in a letter about the Barringer Meteorite Crater, Arizona USA
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russau
post Feb 8 2010, 05:02 AM
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if im not mistaken the prudent man rule also applies to claim owners. and theres lots of people fileing for claims or owning claims that dont quit fit into that condition and thusly have a illegal claim and can be pulled from them because of it.
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