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Mining Claims on Alaska Federal Land

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From the Division of Lands, Minerals & Resources in the BLM Alaska State Office

MINING ON PUBLIC LANDS IN ALASKA

More than 75% of the Federal land in Alaska is closed to mining because it is located in National Parks, Preserves, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, or other areas withdrawn from mineral entry. Of the remaining lands open to mineral entry (staking mining claims) potentially valuable areas are often already claimed. So, the first step in staking a mining claim is thorough research into the land status to determine whether the land is available for mineral entry and whether it is already claimed.

There are several steps to determine whether lands are open to mining:

  1. First you must determine the general area(s) in which you are interested. Information is available from the U.S. Geological Survey or other sources to help you find potentially valuable areas;

  2. The next step is to identify the legal description of the land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land records in Alaska are based on the rectangular system of survey and kept on microfilm catalogued by Meridian, Township, Range, and Section. There are five meridians and approximately 18,600 townships in Alaska. The legal description (Meridian, Township, Range, and Section) may be obtained from the pertinent topographical map available for view in the BLM's Anchorage or Fairbanks Public Information Centers. Alternatively, the maps may be purchased from a U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) Center;

  3. Once you have determined the specific location and land description, the BLM can then help you determine if the land is open for mining. Unfortunately, there are no definitive maps (other than the Master Title Plats (MTPs) for each individual township) that provide accurate depictions of land status suitable for use in staking mining claims. The MTPs are available for view in the BLM Public Information Center (note that mining claims are not shown on the MTPs but are listed in the BLM's computerized Land Information System);

  4. Finally, after determining the location and land status and before prospecting on the ground, we highly recommend that you do a search of the BLM Land Information System for any mining claims already staked in the immediate area and then review the location notices in pertinent casefiles to verify the location and avoid "claim jumping."

BLM Fact Sheet - Maintenance and Location Fee Requirements

WHAT MUST I DO TO MAINTAIN A CLAIM? Once a claim/site is serialized, an annual filing must be made on or before September 1, of each year to maintain the claim/site.  If you have more than 10 claims, you must pay the $140 maintenance fee.  If you have 10 or fewer claims/sites, you may choose to file either the maintenance fee payment or file the Maintenance Fee Waiver certification (a.k.a. small miners waiver).  If you choose to file a small miners waiver, then you must also perform $100 worth of labor or improvements on all placers or lode claims during the assessment year (September 1, noon through September 1, noon).  An Assessment Work Notice (Proof of Labor) form must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per claim.   For mill/tunnel sites, a Notice of Intent to Hold must be filed on or before December 30, along with the $10 filing fee per site. (43 CFR 3833.1-5 and 43 CFR 3833.1-6)

WHAT IS A SMALL MINERS WAIVER? A small miners waiver is short for maintenance fee payment waiver certification.  A small miners waiver may be filed by those claimants holding 10 or fewer claims/sites, instead of paying the $140 maintenance fee by September 1, of each year.  If you choose to file a small miners wavier you must also perform assessment work and file an assessment work notice by December 30, of each year. (43 CFR 3833.1-6)


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