Mining Laws and Regulations, Changes and Revisions 2003
Adapted from Circular 104, August, 2003, revised 12-2010 Rev. 1.5
Recent statutory and regulatory changes that affect Federal mining claims have made portions
of Special Report 12, Laws and Regulations Governing Mineral Rights in Arizona, 9th
Edition inaccurate. Pending the completion of the rewriting of Special Report 12
this circular attempts to briefly describe statutory and agency policy changes
in mining claim procedures. These changes are especially pertinent for the
information on Federal filing requirements, maintenance of title, surface
management regulations, and patenting of claims on pages 28 to 45.
Department circulars that describe previous changes are:
- Arizona Mining Law Change - 1989 (Circular 30)
- Arizona Recordation Law Change, 1991 (Circular 36)
- Annual Assessment Work Requirements Under Arizona Statue, 1994
These circulars, included in Special Report 11, should also be reviewed.
It is important for claimants to keep informed as Congress or
managing agencies make additional changes to mining law or regulatory
Rental Fee Requirement
The Federal government continues to extend the requirement
of rental or maintenance fees in place of assessment work for filing
and holding mining claims with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). All
claimants must pay a yearly maintenance fee of $140 per claim for all
or part of the mining claim assessment year. The fee must be paid at the
State Office of the Bureau of Land Management by August 31 of each year
or the claimant must apply and qualify for the Small Miners Exemption
waiver. The assessment year ends on noon of September 1 of each year.
The initial maintenance fee is paid at the time the Notice of Location
is filed with the BLM and covers the remainder of the assessment year in
which the claim was located. There are no exemptions from the initial fee.
Some claim holders may qualify for a Small Miner Exemption waiver of
the maintenance fee for assessment years after the year in which the
claim was located.
| Fee Schedule* (per claim)
| Location Fee
| Service Charges
| Transfer Fee
| Proof of Labor (Assessment Work)
| Notice of Intent to Hold
| Transfer of Interest
| Petition for Deferment of Assessment Work
| Notice of Intent to Locate on Stock Raising Homestead land
* Fee schedule reflects increases of July
2004, July and November 2005, June 2009.
Small Miners' Exemption
A special exemption is available for claimants with 10 or less claims who meet
production or unreclaimed surface disturbance criteria. If a waiver of the claim
maintenance fee is granted, the claim holder is then required to perform annual
assessment work and file an affidavit of labor at the BLM and county.
A waiver certificate must be filed on or before September 1
of the assessment year for which the waiver is sought. The waiver certificate
- the mining claim and site names,
- Bureau of Land Management serial numbers,
- a declaration by the claimant and all related parties that they own
no more than ten claims and sites nationwide on the date the
waiver statement is due,
- a declaration that specifies that the assessment work requirements
have been or will be completed by the date the payment is due
(on or before September 1) for the coming assessment year,
- the names and mailing addresses of all owners maintaining an
interest in the claims and sites, and
- the signatures of all owners of the mining claims and
sites for which the waiver is claimed.
If a waiver is denied, the claim maintenance fee must be paid within 30
days of the denial or the claim will be voided. If the waiver is found to
be defective for any reason, the claimant has 60 days after the receipt
of written notification of the defect(s) by the Bureau of Land Management
to either fix the problem or pay the $140 claim maintenance fee due for
More information on small miners' exemptions can be
found in Circular 56
(also included in Special Report 11).
Stock-raising Homestead Act
Amendments in 1993 to the Stock-raising Homestead Act have materially
changed the procedure for locating mining claims on Federal minerals
underlying such privately owned surface lands.
Lands patented under the Stock Raising Homestead Act require a formal
notification procedure to the surface owners(s) and the BLM prior to
entry. See 43 CFR 3833.1-2 and 43 CFR 3814 or contact the BLM Arizona
State Office for further details.
Moratorium on Patenting Claims
Federal law provides for the patenting of a mining claim. A patented
claim is one in which the Federal government transfers title to the
claimant. The claimant has clear and absolute title to the claim and
the claim maintenance fee or assessment work is not required.
However, the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act of 1994
established a moratorium on patenting claims that is still in effect.
Changes to Surface Management Regulations
These changes pertain to the
surface management regulations on pages 39-45.
Bureau of Land Management
43 CFR 3809
The Bureau of Land Management of Arizona has compiled handouts,
and posted on their website, interim guidelines and forms for miners
attempting to comply with 43 CFR 3809. 3809 contains requirements enacted
to protect public lands from hardrock mining. The Arizona BLM website,
lists the files available and direct links are listed in the table
below. The document Operator Information for Casual Use, Notice and Plan
Level Operations and for Providing a Financial Guarantee as Required by
43 CFR 3809 is especially useful.
The BLM regulations provide for
three types of operations on public lands: 1. Casual Use level, 2. Notice level,
and 3. Plan of Operation level.
- Casual Use level
- Activities ordinarily resulting in no or negligible
disturbance of the public lands or resources. Casual Use
operations involve simple prospecting with hand tools such
as picks, shovels, and metal detectors. Small-scale mining
devices such as dry washers having engines with less than 10
brake-horsepower are allowed, provided they are fed using only
hand tools. Casual Use level operations are not required to
file an application to conduct activities or post a financial
- Notice level
- operations include only exploration activities in which five or less
acres of disturbance are proposed. Presently, all Notice Level
operations require a written notice and must be bonded for all
activities other than reclamation.
- Plans of Operation level
- activities include all mining and processing (regardless of the
size of the proposed disturbance), plus all other activities
exceeding five acres of proposed public land disturbance.
Financial guarantees do not necessarily need to cover any pre-existing
disturbance if the pre-existing disturbance is not used in
Operators are encouraged to conduct a thorough inventory of the claim to
determine the full extent of any existing disturbance and to meet with
Field Office personnel at the site before developing an estimate. The
inventory should include photographs taken "before" and
"after" any mining activity.
If an operator constructs access or uses existing access
for an operation and would object to BLM blocking, removing, or claiming
that access, then the operator must post a financial guarantee that
covers the reclamation of the access.
The BLM has made the
Reclamation Bond Calculation Spreadsheet
available to help miners estimate their reclamation costs. Generally the
BLM will accept the results of this estimation pending verification of
43 CFR 3715
In these regulations the BLM has addressed the issue of
occupancy. Concurrence by the BLM for occupancy is required whenever
residential occupancy is proposed or when fences, gates, or signs will
be used to restrict public access or when structures that could be used
for shelter are placed on a claim. It is the claimant's responsibility
to prepare a complete notice or plan of operators or 43 CFR 3715 filing.
43 CFR 3600
In these regulations the BLM has addressed Mineral Material Sales for
common variety mineral materials authorized under the Material Act of 1947
(30 U.S.C. § 601) as amended.
BLM Information and Forms Links
| Mining Law Requirements
|Annual Mining Claim Filings
| Form MCF110, Proof of Labor or Notice of Intent to Hold
| Form 3830-2, Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification
| From MCF112, Maintenance Fee Payment
Mineral Records Online
BLM offers two online land records research tools; LR2000, http://www.blm.gov/lr2000
and Geocommunicator http://www.geocommunicator.gov/.
They offer access to land and claim records for all Federal land in the United States.
The Forest Service is also in the process of changing requirements
for filing plans on Forest Service lands. In general, the
changes include more specific reclamation plans and may call for
a Reclamation Performance Bond. The mineral information site is
The forms, Plan of Operation, and Notice of Operations, for Mining Activities on National
Forest System Lands, are at
Mining Claims On State Land
The Arizona law authorizing location of claims on State Lands was
repealed in 1998. Acquisition of mineral rights on State Trust
Land can only be accomplished by application for a prospecting permit,
mineral lease, or lease of common variety materials. See
Arizona Trust Lands
for a review of the Land Departments regulations as well as the
Minerals Management Section
For discussion of these
changes and assistance in compliance, contact the Department staff and the
appropriate personnel at the Federal managing agencies. See the Department
Federal Agencies Concerned with Mining in Arizona
for locations and phone numbers.