Monday, April 30, 2012

Fees on federal mining claims going up 800%

Mining groups are reporting that the BLM will increase annual maintenance fees on association placer mining claims on public lands 8-fold, from $140 to $1120 per 160 acre claim.  Lode claims are not on the table in the correspondence I've seen. The Northwest Mining Association reports that "effective with the claim maintenance fees due September 1, each 20 acre placer claim will require a separate claim fee. Association placer claims will require a claim fee for each 20 acres or fraction thereof. Thus, a 160 acre placer claim will require 8 claim fee payments instead of one.”  The fee was previously raised to $140 from $100.  New claims also require a $15 filing fee and $34 location fee.

The latest numbers I can find show 43,924 mining claims in Arizona as of 2008.  I don't know how many are association placer claims.  [Right, mining claim delineation.  Credit, BLMThe new fees would increase total annual maintenance fees in Arizona from $6.1 million to $49.2 million on that number of claims.

Update 5-1-12 9:30 pm: Thanks to the anonymous commenter below who pointed out my error in initially saying all mining claims would be affected.  In fact, only association placer claims are discussed by the BLM responses. That makes my last statement (crossed out) incorrect. 

CFR § 3832.22 How much land may I include in my mining claim?
(a) Lode claims. Lode claims must not exceed 1,500 by 600 feet. If there is a vein, lode, or ledge, each lode claim is limited to a maximum of 1,500 feet along the course of the vein, lode, or ledge and a maximum of 300 feet in width on each side of the middle of the vein, lode, or ledge.
(b) Placer claims. (1) An individual placer claim may not exceed 20 acres in size.
(2) An association placer claim may not exceed 160 acres. Within the association, each person or business entity may locate up to 20 acres. To obtain the full 160 acres, the association must consist of at least eight co-locators. You may locate smaller association claims. Thus, three co-locators may jointly locate an association placer claim no larger than 60 acres. You may not use the names of other persons as dummy locators (fictitious locators) to locate an association placer claim for your own benefit.
Nyal Niemuth


  1. Anonymous9:38 AM

    Does anyone know how to leave a comment to the BLM on this issue? An 800% increase, is that really necessary!

  2. Anonymous12:59 PM

    The government is broke and you are going to bail them out. Next will be a percentage of everything you find. This will kill the recreational miner. The government doesn't want you to mess up their pristine land and eventually everything will be wilderness areas , national monuments, or a park system of some kind. That will occur after my death, but our great grandchildren will be affected.

  3. Anonymous1:21 PM

    It appears that this applies to association placer claims only with no change to lode claims. There is a difference.

    There may well be 43,924 "mining claims" in Arizona but only a very small percentage of those are association placer claims.

    The total annual maintenance fees in Arizona will not increase anywhere close to the $49.2 million figure cited.

    1. You are absolutely correct. I messed this up and will revise my post. Thanks for catching this and letting me know.

  4. Anonymous5:50 PM

    The link below explains the change.

  5. Anonymous8:40 PM

    this is the Fed closing loopholes for individuals purchasing large (acreage) claims. Got to collect fee's somewhere..... ridiculous. And, the last time I checked, we the people own the land. Not the government.... right...... were already paying a fee to use our own land..... again, ridiculous

  6. Anonymous1:27 AM

    Director (630)
    Bureau of Land Management
    U.S. Department of the Interior
    Attention: 1004-AE27
    1849 C St. NW.
    Washington, DC 20240

    RE: Federal Register /Vol. 77, No. 145 / Friday, July 27, 2012 /Rules and Regulations 44155 ACTION: Interim final rule. Written comments must be submitted before September 25, 2012 to: Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004-AE27

    There is a “joke” on the BLM in the new LAW passed by Congress that arbitrarily & illegally raises association placer claim maintenance fees by up to 800%.

    The same law exempts any holder of lode mining claims, mill & tunnel sites located BEFORE August 10,1993 from paying any maintenance fee what-so-ever. This should be brought to the attention of every BLM state office immediately So, they can implement that into effect.

    If you doubt that, read it yourself. It’s plain as day & statutorily imposed.

    Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes.


    SEC. 430. Section 10101 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (30 U.S.C. 28f) is amended— (1) in subsection (a)—
    (A) by striking so much as precedes the second sentence and inserting the following:
    The holder of each unpatented lode mining claim, mill site, or tunnel site, located pursuant to the mining laws of the United States on or after August 10, 1993, shall pay to the Secretary of the Interior, on or before September 1 of each year, to the extent provided in advance in appropriations Acts, a claim maintenance fee of $100 per claim or site, respectively.’’; and
    (B) by adding at the end the following:
    ‘‘(2) PLACER MINING CLAIMS.—The holder of each unpatented placer mining claim located pursuant to the mining laws of the United States located before, on, or after August 10, 1993, shall pay to the Secretary of the Interior, on or before September 1 of each year, the claim maintenance fee described in subsection (a), for each 20 acres of the placer claim or portion thereof.’’; and
    (2) in subsection (b), by striking the first sentence and inserting the following: ‘‘The claim maintenance fee under subsection (a) shall be paid for the year in which the location is made, at the time the location notice is recorded with the Bureau of Land Management.’’.

    SEE > PAGE 1047

  7. Anonymous1:28 AM

    BLM asserts they have no discretion to delay publication and implementation of this rule. I profoundly beg to differ. BLM has that discretion, when the rule is grossly erroneous, fatally flawed, and in direct conflict with other long standing statutory law. BLM is obligated to utilize their discretion, to prevent ludicrous absurdities in such regulations.

    1). A plain reading of the pertinent Legislation (Section 430 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012), subsequent United States Code (30 USC § 28f ) derived from it, and the resulting regulation BLM published. Plainly reveal distinct absurdities within the new regulation itself.

    As published in the Federal Register, this regulation directly conflicts with mandates within it’s own authorities. In that both the legislations and USC plainly prescribe, and impose unambiguous law that no BLM annual maintenance fee what-so-ever is due annually for current holders of lode claims, mill and tunnel sites located before August 10, 1993. BLM must include that law within this regulation. BLM did not, in direct contravention of its authorities.

  8. Anonymous1:29 AM

    2). Congress has never repealed 30 USC § 28 “…The period within which the work required to be done annually on all unpatented mineral claims located since May 10, 1872, … , shall commence … on the first day of September succeeding the date of location of such claim…”.

    Yet, since 1993 Congress has imposed other law, conflicting with 30 USC § 28. Again, BLM is obligated not to publish this regulation because of that conflict in law. It is BLM’s obligation to point out the conflict to Congress. So that Congress, may in time address the issue, and if-they-so-choose amend or repeal it’s language. Otherwise, BLM lacks clear unambiguous authority to collect initial maintenance fees, at the time initial mining claim locations are filed with them.

    3). Within the Federal Register publication of this Interim Final Rule. BLM states, “…The total maintenance fee collected for placer mining claims that exceed 20 acres is being adjusted so that placer mining claims containing more acreage will bear a proportional amount of the administrative costs associated with the administration of all claims and sites …”.

    BLM’s statement of justification is absurd. BLM’s administrative costs for association placer claims, are exactly the same as all other mining claims, or sites. Consequently, BLM’s justification is both ludicrous and absurd.

  9. Anonymous1:31 AM

    4). BLM asserts “Publishing the regulations in final form gives time to placer mining claim holders whose claims are greater than 20 acres to reduce the size of their claims before September 1, 2012, if they do not wish to pay the adjusted fees”.

    BLM published this “Interim Final Rule” July, 27, 2012, only 35 days before all mining claim owners nationwide must comply with it. Which is certainly impractical. It is literally impossible to legally reduce the size of association placer mining claims, without first adjusting point of discovery monuments, and boundary markers on them. Then, recording an “amended” location notice with the applicable county recorder, then recording the same with the applicable BLM state office (see 43 CFR§ 3833.22). Which, for all practical purposes, is impossible for the bulk of those effected by this rule, to do within such a short time limit.

  10. Anonymous1:32 AM

    5). BLM “finds that the rule does not have takings implications. A takings implication assessment is not required“.

    See 4)., above. For all practical proposes parts of this rule are impossible to comply with. As such, they effectuate a regulatory “taking” of Constitutionally protected private property. Accordingly, a takings implication assessment is in fact required.

    6). BLM asserts, “This rule does not raise novel legal or policy issues.”

    See, 1), 2), 4) above. All of which raise novel legal or policy issues.

    7). BLM’s Federal Register notice states; for “good cause” finds under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) that notice and public procedure for this rule are unnecessary and that this rule may properly take effect upon publication. 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) states, “ …when the agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief statement of reasons therefor in the rules issued) that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest ”.

    BLM’s alleged “good cause” is nonexistent, ludicrous and absurd. BLM had both practical and adequate time to publish a “Proposed Rule” open to the full APA “notice and public procedure” months ago. Doing so was necessary, because this rule, as published is impart clearly erroneous, and impossible to comply with under short notice. As such, it is justifiable and necessary to immediately suspend this rule, that being in the best public interest, (see, all of the above).

  11. Anonymous8:12 PM

    I checked the site http;// today Sept 26, 2012 and found only a single comment under "Administration of Mining Claims and Sites". Did Anomymous from 1:27 AM to 1:32 AM submit his to the BLM address in Washinton DC? I did a few days back. This fee increase needs to be stopped.

  12. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Anonymous #2
    The previous 8:12 comment's date is wrong. I am seeing it on Sept 12, 2012 and there are several comments there now. But more are needed. We only have until Sept 25, 2012 to comment so please do. An up to 800% tax hike (fee = tax) is the BLM's way of driving the people off the public land. Object now or don't complain when you are closed out.

  13. Anonymous4:47 AM

    A Question Since the claim is for minerals on BLM Land can a person other than the claim holder use the land?? Park on it or walk on it??

  14. Public lands staked with mining claims remain open to multiple use - grazing, hiking, hunting, etc.

    The rare case when access would not be allowed is when the public’s safety would be endangered, examples would be heavy equipment use, blasting, CN heap leaching, etc.

    Such occupancy to fence, gate, or otherwise restrict access requires approval in the plan of operations from the land management agency, in this case BLM.