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An Overview of Federal and State Mining Claim Records

Jon Tjornehoj, Mineral Title Examination (2007)

For the title attorney or abstractor interested in examining title to hard rock mining claims, two interrelated inquiries typically drive the process: (1) the status of the subject lands, and (2) the status of relevant mining claims. The status of the subject lands includes issues of ownership of the mineral estate prior to location and the availability of the lands for appropriation under applicable statutory or regulatory regimes. Understanding land status is a practical prerequisite to locating new mining claims, and a necessity for opining on title to existing claims.

Evaluating the status of particular claims involves not only land status issues, but additional considerations such as compliance with filing requirements and payment of maintenance fees. The need to confirm the good standing of existing mining claims may arise where interests in such claims are assigned to another entity, or where new financing is sought to expand existing mine operations. An overview of the federal and state records available to confirm title to existingmining claims is presented here.


A. The Basic Components

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (“FLPMA”) requires owners of unpatented mining claims to, among other things, timely file location certificates and annual affidavits of assessment work with the Burea