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5 Common Mistakes Made With Mining Claims

1. Misunderstanding Maintenance Fees and the September 1st BLM Due Date

September 1st is the most important date to remember for mining claims – this is the date when maintenance fees are due. This is a hard deadline. 

There is NO GRACE PERIOD for claims that miss the September 1st deadline

All claim maintenance payments need to be made or postmarked prior to September 1st of each year to pay for mining claim maintenance through the next year. The mining claim calendar year effectively runs from September 1st through August 31st. If you miss this deadline, your claims will be declared NULL and VOID – there are no exceptions. If you have any grandfathered claim rights, these will be lost. You will need to be stake and file new claims to regain any mineral rights.

You DO have to pay double maintenance fees for bridge claims located in August! 

Claims that overlap the September 1st deadline or ‘bridge claims’ are required to pay maintenance fees for the previous year and the following year. This means, for example, that if you stake a claim on August 20th, but don’t file it with the BLM until September 20th, you will be required to pay for maintenance for both years. 

2. Using Incorrect State Requirements for Claim Location and Paperwork

The General Mining Law of 1872 serves as the federal groundwork for the location and regulation of mining claims within the United States, but there are individual state requirements that must also be followed. These requirements vary widely and cover everything from Notice/Certificate of Location content requirements to the number and type of corner and location monument markers that are required. 

Missing information on Notice and Certificates of Location  

It is easy to forget to include key information on both the notices of location posted in the field and the certificates of location filed with the County Recorder’s and State BLM offices. Basic information can accidentally be left off claim paperwork – various state requirements need to be followed. Some of these requirements dictate very specifically what information needs to be included on notices and certificates of location. Some states require a Notice of Location to be notarized, while others do not.

Failing to Audit Paperwork 

A simple audit can prevent errors, especially when conducted by a third party with a copy of the relevant state-specific claim requirements to cross-reference. 

3. Claims not Staked Properly on the Ground

Every state has different requirements for physical claim staking. These regulations specify a variety of requirements ranging from stake/monument dimensions and types to the number of stakes required. Some states require that end lines and sidelines are marked, while others only require four corners and a location monument. The number of stakes required can vary from four to eight! 

Claim posts themselves can vary widely in requirements for dimensions. Some states have unspecified requirements while others require 4” X 4” X 48” wooden posts or equivalent. Using the wrong posts could result in a host of issues and at the very least will require re-staking using the proper monuments. 

4. Mapping Mistakes

Maps are used for filing mining claims as well as for providing a reference for field activities and claim staking. Map mistakes are common and cause a lot of problems when they are not addressed and corrected quickly. 

Wrong scale 

Scale issues are prevalent with mapping. In states like Nevada, which require a specific minimum map scale, claim paperwork is rejected at the County Recorder level. Having a wrong map scale can also cause issues with drafting correct claim paperwork and physical claim staking.  

Not the right map size for the state 

Nevada, for example, requires very specific map sizes and scales. Failure to follow these requirements will result in claims being rejected. 

Missing details and context 

Most states require claim maps to contain meets and bounds, claim dimensions, and tie-in descriptions to permanent monuments. Without these details, claims run the risk of requiring amendments. A map should contain a legend, north arrow, scale, and enough detail to ensure that features can quickly be identified. 

5. Lack of Due Diligence Prior to Claim Staking

Before an individual or block of mining claims is staked, it is important to make sure that the minerals are locatable, not already claimed, and that you have selected the right type of claim for the minerals you are claiming. 

Not making sure land is available

This is one of the first steps in any claim staking program and one that is critical. Many claims are staked each year on lands that are not locatable, are already claimed, or have been otherwise removed from mineral entry. 

Not checking for competing claims 

Failure to identify potential competing claims can result in over-staking and a failure to obtain any senior mineral rights. This process can be tricky as there are windows of opportunity to stake claims in which records may not show up on the State BLM or County Recorders offices. It is important to check the ground itself for competing claim monuments in addition to available public records. 

Not looking at the MTP 

The Master Title Plats (MTP) is key to identifying the land status and locating lands that are open to mineral entry. Being able to interpret the MTP is a skill that will prove useful time and time again. The MTP will identify lands with split estate minerals, withdrawn areas (wilderness, military, reservation, etc.), and areas that have other restrictions that may not be apparent on other maps. 

Staking the wrong type of claim – Lode vs Placer  

While less of a common mistake – this is one of the most potentially fatal. Staking the wrong type of mining claim could result in a loss of mineral rights, claim jumping, litigation, and a host of other issues. This matter of due diligence requires significant work depending on the type of mineral and deposit. In areas where the law is ambiguous and answers are not clear, it is well worth retaining a mining attorney or experienced consultant to decide on a mining claim type prior to staking and filing. 

Get Experts

The team at Burgex Mining Consultants has experience staking and filing thousands of mining claims throughout the Western United States. We can help you avoid these mistakes and more. You can count on us to make sure your claims are staked and filed quickly and accurately. Contact us today for a free estimate!