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Mining Claim questions, I am going to be staking my first!

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I am just wanting to make sure I understand properly. I know a lot of you deal with mining claims on a daily basis or what seems like a daily basis... This is the first claim I will be locating and filing and I want to make sure I am not overlooking something.

If I locate a claim say, in the next few days, then when I pay fees to the BLM I would have to pay for the year the claim was located on even though it's almost at the end of the assessment year, AND I would still have to pay for the next year on or before the september deadline, correct? I could wait til after september 1st to locate my claim, but I really would rather it not run the risk of being claimed by someone else before I could get to it. And I would like to have a good portion of this summer and fall to be able to work it.

I would assume the standard practice is to wait until after september 1st to file a new claim to save on fees? I'd rather not wait though, I don't know how many people have the same Idea I do :P

And is it worth bothering with a small miner's waiver? I mean I know what it saves, but, in all honesty, I wouldn't be saving anything if I had to make a trip to the claim to do assessment work and I like to keep things simple, and seems just paying the fees is simple.

I am in Idaho, and know that I have to record the location notice, and affidavit of locators, as well as a map of the claim. And I take Idaho Code 47-606 to mean that I would have to record an affidavit with the county stating I paid my assessment fees to the BLM each year, correct?

And I presume the BLM just wants copies of everything I recorded with the county, right? Yeah wouldn't want to forget their money...

Just want to make sure I have everything sorted out and that I am not missing anything. The monuments and boundaries will be the easy part.

I appreciate all the help you guys can give. I am trying to avoid screwing this up and seemed best to ask first.

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Missing much as claims are filed in recorders office,date/time/document stamped first. Go to blm.gov and download claims staking manual as 100s a questions will pop up. A claim is a full time job,public can camp,hunt,ride anythang,fish and you get to clean up the messes or YOU get blamed for others discretions constantly. THEN you finally find some great paystreaks and the high graders show up and rip ya off.Welcome to the wonderful world of claims.- John

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Do not file any paper work until after Sept. 1st.

Reason is, that on Sept. 1st you will be required

to file for the next yr and have to pay maint fees

again. If you file now, you'll be filing for 2014 and

on Sept. 1st you would have to file for 2015.

Notice of Location can date after Sept 1st and

all other forms by Sept. 30 and Dec 31.

You have plenty of time, so be sure you get all your

ducks lined up.

BTW, you can't file for the small miners waiver until your second year.

$10 for the waiver fee vs. $145 per 20 ac?

Is it worth filing the waiver? I'll let you figure that one out. :brows:

Any trip you make to the claim, you can do a little work.

Heck, you only have to verify $100 of improvements.

Clear some rocks out of the road. :4chsmu1:

Edited by Steel Pan
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I believe your are right about the 90 days, but that is the time

frame for filing. But, if someone else files before you, you're out

of luck. You have nothing filed.

I don't know if you can just file the location notice and complete

the rest of the filing within' the 90 days.

Staking is fine, but it's the filing date for location that counts.

IMHO, If the area was so hot for claiming, those REALLY

interested would have already filed.

Don't panic.

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IMHO, the small miners waiver is not worth it. You can't. File until year 2 as mentioned.

If you can afford it, than i recommend paying year two and then file the 3rd year you want. It took me 8 months to learn to file a claim correctly. I a also at one point had trouble with the BLM on a small miners exemption from a previous owner who jad quit claimed the claim to me

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Also, there's all sorts of reasons good claims come open: forgetfulness in annual fees; divorce; death; or dropping it to keep to the 10 claim limit.

At the very least for around a total cost of $350 you'll be able to learn how to file correctly for the next really sweet find.

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Well.. My concern is, yes it is a hot area. And this is a claim I almost bought in the past but thought it's worth waiting a few years to watch it go abandoned so I can relocate it. My patience has paid off and even if I get nailed for 2 years of fees, it's worth the peace of mind knowing no one is going to beat me to the recorder's office. I don't like giving Odumbo the extra money, but, I know anyone who might be after this ground too is going to want to save the $150 or so and wait til after the first.

I could stake the claim, and post date a location notice to september first, but, anyone finding it would realize it's not valid until the first and all they would have to do is fill out their own forms and I've done all the work for them.

I would go into details about the claim and why It is at the top of my list to make sure I get, but, if I make it there as planned this week I will take pictures of what I find and post them here :) I will tell you the first time I was at the site, I went upstream of the existing claim but I wanted to see if the open ground up from it was any good... There was lots of flour just in the top soil... I mean, lots of it, enough to make me drool. And normally we don't run topsoil and normally it is crappy overburden. But I sampled everything I could get my hands on. I was even crushing pieces of quarts and panning them out. But mostly, I know the gravel on the claim I want is likely in large part put down by the river it dumps into, i mean im almost at the mouth of the stream and go back long enough I can see how rich gravels would have accumulated during a thousand or ten thousand year flood. And yes, because it is on the fringe of what is considered the rich region, it has been overlooked... But, a big outfit started staking up tons of ground just a few miles away, dunno if they kept their claims or not, but if they get the idea to expand I'd be doomed. So, there you have it.

If I can just record and pay for 2014 the full fee, and have that count as my first year of owning the claim so tht the second year, 2015 would qulify for the miners waiver, then I will be ecstatic.

SO,... IF I file before Sept 1st then I can I just pay the location years fees and then after sept 1st if I file the small miner waiver I'd just owe the $10 and would I be filing an intent to hold or would the assessment work be doable and count if I were to do it right after the first and I could just file the affidavit of assessment work? And how do you figure wht your work is worth, do you say well, I spent 10 hours working on improving the claim and at $10 an hour thats $100?

Basically, I just wanted to be clear on what I actually will be oweing so no one gets their nose out of joint and my claim is invalid for not paying the proper amounts :P

The paperwork is all ready to go, I just got to get there and put up the new monuments as per state code and record the documents. And make sure the boundary is clearly marked of course.

I appreciate all the insight help and advice even if youve been asked a million times in the past by people.. I've read every document I can get my hands on, but this is a quest to make sure I am not overlooking anything and that no one else overlooked anything either. The government is not the easiest thing in the world to coexist with :P

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And how do you figure wht your work is worth, do you say well, I spent 10 hours working on improving the claim and at $10 an hour thats $100?

I think you're on the right track filing now, and then using the waiver for the next year. Sounds like a wash either way, only by paying the fees right now you'd more or less be a year ahead instead of a year behind.

Regarding what your assessment work time is worth. I'm getting all my ducks in a row just in case I find ground that warrants bringing in heavy equipment. In doing my research on reclamation bonds and what the government would consider appropriate fees for assessing a bond, I've found they go by whatever the average local costs are to rent the equipment, and hire the labor to run that equipment if they ever had to hire somebody to reclaim an area. I would assume the same fees/costs would be assessed in regards to your waiver work.

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I would assume gas/travel to and froma claim is deductible at 55cents a mile? Or is there a difernt 'schedule'? ANd I would charge yourself at least 15$/hr. Pick and shovel all keepin an eye out fer wild critters is worth more than10$.

Edited by weaver hillbille
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Well it all makes sense, essentially I would be "contract" labor for myself.. And if I figure in the mileage then yeah that puts a big dent in it too :P So filling potholes in with the tailings from my classifier would count? I could do my assessment work while I mine :) I guess main thing is if they ask what exactly I did, I can point to it and say this this and this...

Sounds like I am ready to go. Thanks again!

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Read the manual man as driving time counts for nothing as MUST be a direct improvement to improve the claims mineability and not your gas getting there. Gas used in chainsaws/hoists to improve access yes-otherwise jus' pzn n' the wind. There is a complete list of what counts and go STICTLY by it or lose out.John

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My last assumption on mileage reimbursement was wrong.

My next one- filling potholes is only an improvment if you didn't make the pothole.

Road maintenance, I would guess is a sticky wicket depending on actual work being done.. Is it to keep the road as it is and just passable? Maybe that's not an "improvement" but falls under "general maintenance".

Or to grade it smoother- an actual improvement( at least as long as the weather holds?) Adding brow ditches would be one, the occassional culvert,,

Well it all makes sense, essentially I would be "contract" labor for myself.. And if I figure in the mileage then yeah that puts a big dent in it too :P So filling potholes in with the tailings from my classifier would count? I could do my assessment work while I mine :) I guess main thing is if they ask what exactly I did, I can point to it and say this this and this...

Sounds like I am ready to go. Thanks again!

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I believe there is an erroneous statement on the page I posted the link to above. I talked to the person who constructed that page and she stands by it. However, she transferred me to another guy who knows it is wrong and has tried to get it changed to no avail.

This is within the same office of the BLM in CA. Very frustrating to deal with a situation like this.

File a 2015 Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification , Form 3830-2 (commonly referred to as a Small Miner’s Waiver) on or before September 2, 2014 . There is no charge for filing a Small Miner’s Waiver.

Because you file the 2015 Small Miner’s Waiver , you must ALSO file the following:
For placer and lode claims listed on the Small Miner’s Waiver, you must file a 2014 Affidavit of Assessment Work (also known as a Proof of Labor), along with the $10 processing fee per claim . Please note that you do not have to Notarize your Assessment Form for the BLM. Check with your individual counties if you need to Notarize your Assessment Form.

For mill or tunnel sites listed on the Small Miner’s Waiver, you must file a 2014 Notice of Intent to Hold or, write on the Small Miner’s Waiver that it serves as a Notice of Intent to Hold for the mill or tunnel site listed on the waiver and include the $10 processing fee per site .

We highly recommend that you file your Affidavit of Assessment Work and/or the Notice of Intent to Hold at the same time you file your 2015 Small Miner’s Waiver .
IMPORTANT REMINDER: For those who filed a 2014 Small Miner’s Waiver last year (by September 1, 2013), you must file your 2014 Affidavit of Assessment Work on or before December 30, 2014, regardless of whether you pay the $155 Maintenance Fee this year for 2015.

I contend that in the first year of filing for a Small Miner's Waiver you should file the Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification and a Notice of Intention to Hold Mining Claims/Sites along with $10.00 per claim prior to September 1. Then the following year you would have to file the Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification by September 1 and an Affidavit of Performance of Annual Work along with $10.00 per claim by December 30 of that year. Everyone you talk to at BLM seems to have a different interpretation of the law governing mining claims.

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Probably worth a call to the BLM to get specifics, but for renewal, you need an AMC # prior to filing the waiver.

Since youre so close, you may be able to file all the paperwork at once, but Id be sure that the BLM will accept that. If you file the affidavit of labor & small miners exemption for the next year with the original claim, will they except that, or will they say how can you improve your claim if you havent owned it.

If you wait to get a claim # mailed back to you, you may get close to the deadline. The BLM in AZ has gotten the few claims Ive filed back to me within two weeks of mailing them, so you should be good there.

Also, for calling the BLM, you probably will not be talking to the lead assessor on the phone. Itll probably be a clerk. So, make sure you get names of who you talk to. Youll know after talking with the guy a little if hes knowledgeable or not; however, you are still responsible to follow rules precisely even if they tell you wrong. For example, one guy I talked to at the AZ office was trying to charge me a single 20 acre price for a 40 acre claim. So, had I mailed that in like he said, it would have gotten kicked back because I would have mailed in about $150 less than I should. In that case, I could have said that XXXX told me so, but if someone had filed over me, the claim would have been issued to anyone who beat me to sending it in.

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Do not waste time calling as if NOT in written word all you have is blue sky and bs-#1 lesson in dealing with the bureauratz at BLM-get the book or you'll be bloody sorry-download as nuttn' to it-John

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The "Small Miners Waiver" is always requested in advance of the year you are claiming it for.

To get how this whole thing works you need to stay clear on the fact that by law both the State (County Recorder's office) and the BLM (always the main State BLM office) must have a paid notice for each year you hold your claim. The State requires a public record be made and the BLM requires a paid informational status update to their Case File be made.

The problem comes in understanding the difference between the State filing year and the Federal filing year. Lets start by clearing those two time frames up.


The Federal Mining Claims year begins (and ends) at midnight on August 31st of each year. Technically Congress made that date one minute after midnight but the BLM offices are closed at that time so realistically the deadline for making your paid update to their case file is end of day on August 31.

There is no provision for holidays or weekends in that Federal law so please ignore the BLM dates on their website. Many claims have been declared void for not meeting the legal deadline no matter what the BLM tells you. The law is the law and the BLM is... well... just another government agency that is not legally responsible for their mistakes. :grr01:


Each State has it's own recording laws regarding for the requirement to make a public record of your mining claim each year. Most States require a recording be made within the calender year (January 1 - December 31st). Some States follow the Federal filing year. You will need to look up what the legal time frame for your state is. For Arizona it's the calendar year.


Two different deadlines for the two different acts to keep your claim current can be confusing but the Feds have put one more kink in the process. :ROFL:

If you are required to file a Notice of Intent to Hold or a Affidavit of Work the Federal deadline for bringing a copy of that public record made at the County to be filed with the BLM is December 30th - not the 31st. If you are a day late on that BLM filing you will lose your claim (as many others have) no matter what your state law is or the misinformation sent out by the BLM every year.


Confused yet? :idunno:

Here's the upshot on filing a claim before end of day on August 31 and still being eligible for the Small Miners Exemption for the upcoming assessment year.

Record your claim and file with the BLM as usual. As soon as you get your BLM MC # put it on your pre-prepared small miners exemption form and go ahead and submit it at the same time you file your claim. As long as you make that Small MinersExemption form filing before September 1 you are good to go.

You will still need to record a Notice of Intent to Hold for your new claim at the County Recorder's office before your State's annual deadline and make sure you file a copy of that recorded notice with the BLM (along with the $10 fee) before December 30th.

This process meets the requirement that the County Recorder and the BLM both receive an annual notice about your claim status. You will still need to do your assessment work and make your annual recordings and filings for the following year as usual and any other claims you already have under the Small Miners Exemption will still have to have to make the usual Affidavit of Work recording and BLM filing of that recording.

The Small Miners Exemption form is free to file and does not meet your annual filing requirement. The Small Miners Exemption form is for the coming year - it does not apply to the current year. You will still need to file the The Small Miners Exemption form every year with all your claims no matter when you have made new claims.

I know that's all probably clear as mud now but read it through and you will eventually understand the perverse logic of government agencies looking out for your interests. :tisk-tisk:

p.s. this is not theory - done the whole process many times. If you get different information from a BLM employee just ask the next one in line. They all have a different story to tell and by law none of them can be held accountable for the answers they give you.

The information I share here is not legal advice - just experience and going to the trouble to read and understand the law.

Edited by clay
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Another issue, especially with the County Recorder's offices is have very legible documents and in the case of Yavapai the size of the font is specified. I don't have the size in front of me but I think it's 10 minimum. Better check it yourself to be sure. Fill out your forms in large printed legible block letters without anything scratched out and rewritten if you want it to go through without issue. Don't ask how I know. ;-)

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The minimum font size for Yavapai County is 10 points. Every other county I've dealt with is the same but you should check before recording.

The most important requirement is top, bottom and side clear margins. Most Counties require at least 2 inches of clear space at the top of the page. The clear space is for their stamps, in most Counties if you don't have the clear space they will make you add on a "Cover sheet" with the title of the document that you are filing. This is so they have room to clear stamp your record. In some counties this will cost you extra. Even if there is no extra charge for the cover sheet you will still probably get a sour look or rolled eyes for no paying attention to their rules. :rolleyes:

Something that is left out by 99% of claimants is to leave a space for the BLM stamps. The BLM won't even roll their eyes if you don't make a clear space for their stamps - they just stomp that sucker right over your claim description. I probably don't have to tell you how that goes when the next goobermint lackey has to review your claim papers and can't read your claim description. :tisk-tisk:

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