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2017 Annual Claims filings


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It's that time again. The August 31 deadline to make your required annual mining claims filings is only a month away.

As she does every year Ruby has compiled general guidelines and a graphic flow chart to help claim owners understand their annual obligations.  If you are confused about the process or just want a refresher review these could help make the process clearer.

These are a free PDF download. Feel free to share, distribute or print these out as long as you retain the attribution.

General Guidelines

Flow Chart

Whatever you do don't be late. You will lose your claim if your filings aren't on time.

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For those who purchased, or obtained by a quitclaim transfer of interest, a mining claim between September 2016 and August 2017, the following hypothetical may be of interest since this specific situation is not directly addressed in the referenced guidelines (although the general rules apply):

Miner A filed the small miner waiver for the 2017 maintenance year for his placer claim prior to September 1, 2016.  His proof of labor for the 2017 maintenance year thus would be due by December 30, 2017.  However, Miner A sells his placer claim to Miner B sometime during the first eight months of 2017.  Miner B, after recording his new claim promptly files it with BLM along with his Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification prior to September 1, 2017.

Query: What happens if Miner A fails to file his Proof of Labor by December 30, 2017?  Does Miner B have to worry about whether Miner A will file his proof of labor?

Arguably, if Miner A had not sold his claim, then BLM would issue a notice of forfeiture to Miner A.  But, applying the general rules laid out on the referenced guidelines, since Miner B notified BLM of his recorded quitclaim deed and timely filed his small miner waiver for the 2018 maintenance year, then BLM only should require that Miner B submit a recorded copy of his Notice of Intention to Hold by December 30, 2017 plus a proof of labor for work performed during the 2018 maintenance year by December 30, 2018.

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The proof of labor requirement goes to the claimant - not the claim. The previous "small miner" owner of record is required to do the labor and record his proof. This is one of those buyer beware/due diligence issues.

Since the labor is done in arrears on a promise there is no way to "go back" on the current year requirements and just timely pay the maintenance fee. If this is a current issue the previous owner can make right on the labor Recording by December 30. That date is in Arizona, in California I think it's by September 30 but you should check your State deadlines and follow those. The BLM will accept copies of Recorded proofs of labor until the end of day December 30th in all States (NOT December 31st!)

The catch is Miner A only offered a quitclaim. A quitclaim only asserts that Miner A is transferring his interest in the claim. If he doesn't reveal that his interest has a labor requirement lien on the title you might have a complaint of fraud but absent other evidence that would be pretty hard to prove. The fact that Miner A's interest in the claim was due to expire if he didn't complete his labor requirement certainly does affect his transfer of interest. Miner B will not get a free ride into 2018 just because of a transfer of interest. Miner A needs to complete his obligation to insure Miner B gets what he thought he was paying for. Once the BLM realizes the 2017 claim requirements were not met they will declare the claim abandoned and change the case status to CLOSED despite their being a new owner.

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  • 1 month later...

If you haven't done your annual BLM FLPMA filing yet your time has run out. Yesterday was the last chance. The BLM shows September 1 as the final date but that is a trap for people who rely on the BLM information rather than following the law. The BLM has a special treat for those who follow their instructions. Just ask Art Anderson (PDF).

In Art Anderson, 181 IBLA 270, GFS(MIN) 14(2011), the
IBLA found that a placer mining claim was forfeited when the
claimant attempted to file a small miner waiver certification on
September 1, rather than on or before August 31. On September 1,
2010, plaintiff tried to file a small miner waiver certification
with BLM for the 2011 assessment year. BLM rejected the waiver
certification because it lacked the signature of one of the claim
owners. Id. at 272-73. Plaintiff appealed and on appeal, the IBLA
stated that had plaintiff submitted a timely certificate, BLM’s
rejection of the waiver certificate would have been in error. BLM
should have accepted the certificate, notified the claimant of the
defect, and given the claimant 60 days’ notice to cure. Id. at 273.
However, the IBLA determined that plaintiff did not timely
submit the certificate. Prior to 2007, the assessment year began
at 12:00 p.m. on September 1 of each year. In 2007, Congress
amended the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 to make
the annual assessment year commence at 12:01 a.m. of each year
. .
Id. at 274. Claimants are required to submit a claim maintenance
fee or waiver certificate before the commencement of the assess-
ment year. Id.; 30 U.S.C. § 28f(b). BLM has not yet amended its
regulations to reflect the change in the 2007 legislation and 43
C.F.R. § 3834.11 (a)(2) still provides that the annual maintenance
fee is due on or before September 1 of each year. Nevertheless,
the IBLA held that the statute is self-operative and that failure to
timely pay the maintenance fee or submit the waiver certificate
causes the claim to forfeit by operation of law. 181 IBLA at 275.

BLM still hasn't corrected their regulations, websites or information handouts to reflect the changes to the law in 2007. As Art Anderson found out that doesn't prevent the BLM from closing claims that haven't had an annual required informational filing before September 1.

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That is just plain wrong! They have had what 10 years since the change ... typical government operation though. It goes to the old saying that my dad fortunately drilled into my head as a youngster ... "If you are not early you are late!"

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