General Mining Act of 1872 By Adam Wirtz & Brandy Stubbs
What does the General Mining Act of 1872 do? • The Act governs the use of Federal lands useable for mining. • The Act allow generally held public lands to be claimed by private citizens for mining purposes. • Private citizens claim a “Patent” on the land.
How to obtain a mining claim. • Find Federal land that has not been claimed by someone else, withdrawn, or designated for other use that also contains a valuable mineral. • Claim the land.
Patented vs. Unpatented Mining Claims • Patented-through the patenting process, the claim becomes privately owned. • Unpatented – the claim remains federal land, the miner has exclusive use rights of mining.
Maintaining An Un-Patented Mining Claim • Federal Land Policy and Management Act gives 2 requirements for maintaining an unpatented mining claim. • Federal Recording System – Notices of location for the claims have to be recorded with the bureau of Land Management. • Each year miners must file a notice of intention to hold the claim with the BLM and state officials & an annual assessment of work.
Annual Assessment of Work • Miners have to show that they put $100 worth of work each year – or pay $100 to the BLM (FLPMA) or you lose your claim. • Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1993 allowed for the $100 rental fee in lieu of the yearly work requirement. • If a miner fails to provide the annual assessment of work by the deadline set by the BLM, you lose your right to the claim.
How To Obtain A Patent? • There are 7 steps to obtaining a patent… • Locate Land • Survey • File Application • Notification • Qualifications • Patent • Record
How To Obtain A Patent? • Locate Land • The miner must find a piece of land that is under Federal control. • The Land must contain some type of mineable mineral. • Survey The Land • The miner must obtain a plat and corresponding field notes made under the direction of the Surveyor General of the U.S. • Must Show accurate boundaries of the claim. • File An Application • The miner must file an application for the land patent with the local land office. • Given under oath, and includes the plat and field notes. • Must describe the claim, including land marks.
How To Obtain A Patent? • Notification • The application and plat have to be posted on the land. • Notification must also be placed in local newspaper and local land office. • Qualifications • 60 days to submit certification to Surveyor General that a minimum amount of work has been done and that the plat is correct. • In addition, the miner must be able to show a specified investment per year until the patent is issued.
How To Obtain A Patent? • Patent • After 60 days, if no adverse claim is filed, and the miner is in compliance with other regulations, the patent can be issued. • The patent is issued in return for the miner purchasing the land from the Federal Government for a set price per acre. • Record • Records of the miner’s claim must include: • Name of locator • Date of location • Description of claim including natural landmarks.
Determining the Size of a Claim • At the time the General Mining Act was passed, it created very specific boundaries for claims. • Surface mines – miners may claim up to 1,500 feet along the vein or lode and 300 feet on either side of the vein. • Underground Mines - miners may claim any previously undiscovered veins within 3,000 ft. from the opening of the tunnel • Adjacent Land – Miners may claim land not used for mining but to assist in the mining process.
What Rights Are Obtained? • Miners have the right to form rules and regulations for their territory, if the boundaries are clearly marked and do not conflict with U.S. laws. • Miners gain the right to possesion of their claim as well as use and enjoyment of all surface area.
How To Use Your Claim • Surface Occupancy Permits • A permit given by the BLM which allows miners to actually mine for the minerals they discovered on their claim. • The BLM can determine what the terms of the permit are and can require an Environmental Impact Statement
Types of Mining • Surface Mining • Open-Pit/Quarry • Strip Mining • Placer Mining • Sub-Surface Mining • Drift Mining – Horizontal Tunnel • Slope Mining – Sloping Tunnel • Shaft Mining – Vertical Tunnel
Types of Mining • Open-Pit Copper Mine
Types of Mining • Coal Strip Mine
Types of Mining • Gold Placer Mine
Land Limitations • The Mining Act only applies to Federal lands, or lands in the public domain. • The Mining Act only applies to Federal lands on which mineable minerals have been located.
Persons Limitations • The Mining Act only applies to those who have established themselves as miners by profession. • The miner has to have found mineable minerals on federal land that is not claimed by another miner.
Law Limitations • The Mining Act only applies as long as the claims of miners or the mining of minerals does not violate any laws of the United States. • The Act cannot impair the existing rights of miners and their already existing mining claims. • However, the Mining Act is considered to repeal all inconsistent acts.
What is a Valuable Mineral? • In order to have a claim, the miner has to find a valuable mineral on the land. • A valuable mineral has been described as • “where minerals have been found and the evidence is of such 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.” • Marketability Test – Recent Court Test • - The miner needs to show they can extract, remove, and market the mineral and still make a profit.
What Is Not A valuable Mineral? • The Mineral Leasing Act (1920) removed some mineral resources from consideration for mining claims. • - coal, oil, gas, shale oil, and some fertilizer minerals • Courts have ruled that congress did not intend to include anything valuable within the mining act and have excluded certain resources. • Water, peat, stalagmites, fossils, sand, pumice, gravel and building stone.
Withdrawn Lands • Not all federal lands are available for mining. • The BLM has the ability to withdraw certain lands from the Mining Act, making them unavailable for individual claims. • This power is granted by the FLPMA • In addition, lands used as national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and other types of land that have been withdrawn or designated as unavailable cannot be claimed.
Administration Consists of… • Territorial Rules • Bureau of Land Management • Public Land Offices • United States Surveyor General • Courts
Territorial • Miners can form specific territories, as long as the territories are marked by clear and distinct boundaries. • Within those territories, miners can create rules and regulations to govern mining as long as they do not conflict with any U.S. laws.
Bureau of Land Management. • The BLM is the administrative agency that has authority over unpatented mining claims. • Miners first have to file paperwork regarding the location of their claim with the BLM and have to send the BLM their annual work assessment. • BLM’s authority comes from the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). • Mining activities can only be carried out pursuant to receipt of a permit from the BLM. • The BLM can require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) & require the miners to take or cease actions, in order to protect an environmental interest.
Public Land Offices • To obtain a “patent”, miners have to file paperwork with the Public Land Office which oversees the application process and granting of patents. • In addition, they help ensure proper notification is given to the local community and deal with any adverse claims.
United States Surveyor General • Miners are required to go through the U.S. Surveyor General in order to obtain necessary paperwork to be able to file an application with the Public Land Office.
Courts • In the case of an adverse claim, the issue is settled by a court with competent jurisdiciton.
Land Requirements • The principle land requirement is that it be Federal land, or land in the public domain. • Must be land which there is no adverse claim. • A claim by another miner for the same land.
Miner Requirements • The person making the claim must be a miner by profession. • The person making the claim must have found mineable minerals on the land in question. • The person making the claim must file an application for patent.
Unpatented Claim Requirements • The miner must file first file a notice of the location of their claim with the BLM. • Every year the miner must submit an annual assessment of work showing that at least $100 of work was performed , or submit $100 as a sort of rent in lieu of the work assessment. • If the miners do not meet these requirements, they lose their claim to mine the land. The BLM follows strict adherence to these regulations, even paying a few days late can lead to the miner losing their claims.
Patent Requirements • An application must be filed with the Public Land Office. • Proper notification to the local community including posting on the land in question as well as publication in the local newspaper and notification placed in the Public Land Office. • Plat and field notes obtained under direction of the U.S. Surveyor General. • Certification by Surveyor General that all necessary inputs and improvements were made to the land in question by the miner including compliance with yearly input requirements.
Patent Requirements • Documentation from miner that plat is correct along with a detailed description of the land in question. • Absence of any adverse claim to the land in question. • Proof of citizenship, made either by personal affidavit of the claimant or by an agent of the claimant.
Key Definitions • Mine - An excavation made in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, precious stones, etc. • Vein – A regularly shaped and lengthy occurrence of an ore. • Claim – Something that is claimed, esp. a piece of public land for which formal request is made for mining or other purposes. • Plat – A plot of ground, a plan or map, as of land. • Survey – to determine the exact form, boundaries, position, extent of a tract of land.
Previous Laws • The Mining Act specifically states that it repeals any existing inconsistent laws, but does not impair previously existent mining claims. • There is a bit of discontinuity in that the Mining Act because it overrides all previous laws, but upholds prior mining rights.
Current Laws • The Mining Act provides for a lot of freedom to miners to create their own regulations and rules with regard to their mining territory, as long as they don’t violate U.S. laws. • Miners acting under the Mining Act must also act in compliance with Federal law regarding property ownership or use of Federal lands. • Miners must also act in compliance with any Federal laws regarding mining and applicable industries. • Federal law governing pollution-control and disposal of waste both on federal land and waterways also applies . • Laws regarding conservation of public lands and wildlife protection areas apply as well.
Current Laws • Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) – among other things, this act allows for environmental concerns to be addressed. • It allows the BLM to require an EIS and to place conditions on land use permits to mitigate environmental damage. • The act also sets out the 2 requirements for maintaining an unpatented mining claim
Current Laws • Mineral Leasing Act • This act removed some minerals from the list of valuable resources up for grabs. • - coal, gas, oil, shale.
Ways To Get Involved • Citizens can file their own claims for mineable land. • Citizens can file adverse claims to any claim that is undergoing the patent process. • Individuals can participate in the EIS process that can be required by the BLM. • A court can issue injunctions until proper a proper EIS is formed.
Effects of Surface Mining • Placer Mining involves sifting through gravel and sand, often along waterways. • This has an effect n the makeup and shape of riverbeds. • Strip mining along waterways leaves mineral and soil deposits in the waterways.
Effects of Sub-Surface Mining • Sub-surface mining usually takes place below the water table, meaning water is constantly being diverted out of the mines and therefore diverted out of the water table. • The water table is connected to rivers and streams