How to Stake a Mining Claim on Federal Lands

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Any U.S. citizen can stake a mining claim on federal public lands provided no patented or assessed claims currently exist at that location. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees the recording of mining claims for various reasons: to determine the location of un-patented mining claims, to remove ambiguity of title to lands with abandoned claims and to collect information on the location of active mining claims.

Recording a Mining Claim on Federal Lands

Search public land statistics for patented claims. Once you have discovered minerals on federal lands, you should cross-reference the location with patented claims recorded at the office of the county recorder. If the claim has not been patented it will not appear in the county records and you can proceed to stake your claim.

File official record with the local BLM office. Record the description of the mining claim so it can be located. If you held a claim before October 21, 1976, you were required to file a notice of intention to hold your mining claim, or record a deferment or suspension of the annual assessment, within three years. Without these files, the claim is considered an abandoned claim and can be staked by another U.S. citizen.

Geological surveys must accompany annual assessment reports made to the BLM.
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Report annual assessment work to the local BLM office on or before December 30 of each succeeding year after claim is recorded. The purpose of the annual assessment report is to identify the viability of the claim. The report must include evidence of assessment work including geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys, as well as current name and address of the claim's owner.

File notice of intention to hold the mining claim with the BLM if you have a pending petition to defer assessment work. You can only defer assessment work if you cannot gain access to your claim, perhaps as the result of adjacent landowners' refusal to grant a right-of-way across their property. Under these circumstances you must provide the name of the landowner, the nature of the property (topography, vegetation, surface water, existing roads) over which you seek access, reasons why access has been denied, other options for access and information related to any associated legal proceedings.

Pay annual maintenance fees. To maintain claims on federal lands maintenance fees are required to be paid to the BLM on an annual basis, $189 per claim or site for the initial filing and $140 each subsequent year. If annual filings including fees are not received by September 1 of each year, the claim will expire.


  • All state laws regarding the record and maintenance of claims within state boundaries must be complied with to file and maintain claims on federal lands.


About the Author

Diane Bacher is a certified business energy professional with more than 16 years of experience in the environmental and energy sector. She has written numerous data and regulatory compliance reports for industrial, financial, educational and information-technology clients. Bacher's publications include the New Jersey Technology Council's "Tech News."

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