Claim with missed maintenance fee / waiver

OwenT

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There's a claim I've had my eye on for a little while. I noticed that no maintenance fee was paid nor small miner waiver requested this year. At least that's what it shows on the current MLRS report. I just want to make sure I'm not missing something before I go try to file for it myself. I've read there is like a 30 day grace period after missing 9/1 to pay again or something so I'd at least wait until October. I know the BLM is slow to update the status from active to closed, but are records of paid fees and waivers updated more quickly?

I have talked with the individual who owned the claim about it before on friendly terms. It was about 2 years ago and he kind of offered to sell it to me, but it was too much for me. He also has 2 other claims in the area that both show the fees as paid this year, which makes it seem like he didn't just forget to pay this year. I am trying to decide how to go about this. Since I've talked to him before, albeit briefly, I feel like just quietly picking up the claim, while legal, is a little underhanded. If I ask him about it, I may risk losing my chance at getting the claim, but on the other hand, he may tell me he let it go intentionally and I'm welcome to it.
 
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et1955

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Hi Owen, check with the county recorders office, they will know the status of the claim. Don't rely on the BLM for a claim status, I pay full maintenance fees for my claims and the BLM will update my claims status immediately but if you file SMW that can take many months to show up.
 

winners58

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look at his other claims for money received, sometimes it shows up as the first claim in their filing.
if it was a missed payment and he usually pays then its probably open,
if they usually file a waver then BLM will send a notice to pay but it is from when they send the notice.
county is no help if they pay each year, you can file with the county then send it to BLM after the customary
month and a week waiting to see if there is a curable defect.
I filed one last year, no payment shows up for last year, then they paid this year,(?%#%) waiting on BLM land law examiners to pull the records.
search county records for any new claims on that spot then file with the county at least,
contact BLM state office to see if a payment was made or letters sent out, OR/WA state office BLM_OR_SO_Land_Office_Mail@blm.gov
of course the longer you wait is more of a chance someone else will file it, sometimes its best to take a chance.
 
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Clay Diggins

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A missed maintenance fee is never a curable defect. There is no grace period.

If you know for a fact the maintenance fee wasn't paid by September 1st you can count on the claim being void. You can proceed to locate your new claim UNLESS the claimants are actually on the ground actively mining the deposit. If the original claimants are mining the deposit they have until September 30 to file a new claim in the same exact location.

As winners58 mentioned you can check the claim's BLM lead file number to see if it shows any payments. The lead file is usually updated before the individual claim files.

The various State BLM offices have very different timelines for updating their file systems. If this is in California it might be six years or more before the claim is listed as CLOSED. Other states vary but at this time of year all the BLM claims updates are slower than usual. The BLM file won't help you if there is a dispute anyway. The BLM is prevented by law from determining who has the better claim so there is no help there. The BLM files can not be attested to in court.

The County Records can help you though. County Recorders update their records within a few days. Every state requires an annual record be made by each claim owner to keep their claim. Check at the recorder's office to see if the annual public record was made on time for that claim. If it wasn't recorded you can move forward on the new mining claim and be assured you will prevail in a claim dispute. The County Recorder can attest in court to records existing/not existing unlike the BLM.

Heavy Pans
 
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et1955

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It is required that you file an NIH" Notice of intent to hold " for your claims with the county recorders office plus also indicate weather you paid full maintenance fees or filed for a MFW or located the claim during the current assessment year. Also required is to show you paid any property taxes and special levies plus in California a 75$ tax to for the homeless, each state will be different. Clay is right as usual so do it right,lol
 
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OwenT

OwenT

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I don't think I understand how to check the lead file number for payments. Could you explain that bit?

The only applicable state regulations I can find are these. (40-1-6)
(Claim is in UT)
It doesn't explicitly say every year, but I am assuming that it what it means when it says that at the end of the assessment year something must be filed whether it be work done, fees payed, or NIH for mill/tunnel sites.

Sounds like a trip to the recorder's office is in order.
 
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Clay Diggins

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I don't think I understand how to check the lead file number for payments. Could you explain that bit?

Ed, it seems to me a NIH is for Tunnel or Millsite claims in lieu of an affidavit of assessment work when a small miner's waiver is applied.

The only applicable state regulations I can find are these. (40-1-6)
(Claim is in UT)

Sounds like a trip to the recorder's office is in order.

That's a link to the Utah laws. So the claim is in Utah.

All states require an annual notice be recorded to hold a mining claim. It's in part 40-1-6 (d) of the Utah law you posted. You will find the same requirement in part RCW 78.08.081 of the Washington State laws.

In the past the Utah BLM has been pretty quick to update their records. The last COVID years have produced different results. I wouldn't expect to see the Utah BLM to update the maintenance fee claims status for another week or two at best.

Check with the County Recorder. They will know if the NIH has been recorded. I don't know which County the claim is in but most Utah counties have an online search feature. If not you can probably get what you want with a phone call.

To check the lead file number look at the upper right corner of the claim's Serial Register Page. There will be a mining claim number and just below it will be the lead file number. Copy that number.
If your are on the BLM MLRS Serial Number Page just look right above the result window and copy/paste the lead file number in the search frame, choose "Yes" in the dropdown just next to where it says "Lead File Number". Run the search and you will see the Lead File Serial Register Page which will have all the associated claims and their payment status. :thumbsup:

Heavy Pans
 
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et1955

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Your right except NIH is for all claims, on your way to county recorders office pick up a dozen doughnuts for them, lol, a little doughnut bribery can't hurt.
 

winners58

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to research a persons other claims run a customer info report, Name in all cap's, "all" under disposition
https://reports.blm.gov/reports/MLRS
after the search comes back the first set of numbers is the claim # second is the lead file,
I find the lead file groups claims that are filed around the same date or contiguous.
Go to the county recorder and search by claim owners Name, look for recent filings
and get a copy of the original location, it helps when writing the description.
for BLM a notice of intent to hold is only filed the first year or the first year switching from the small miners waver to paying the maintenance fees.
some states like California recorders require a filing every year for taxes or acknowledgement of waved fees
Maybe the claim owner is downsizing and just stopped paying,
If it was me I would contact him and ask if he let it go, maybe he's downsizing, tell him you'd like to file on it before eBay claim flippers get it.
 
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Clay Diggins

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to research a persons other claims run a customer info report, Name in all cap's, "all" under disposition
https://reports.blm.gov/reports/MLRS
after the search comes back the first set of numbers is the claim # second is the lead file,
I find the lead file groups claims that are filed around the same date or contiguous.

I use the LR2000/MLRS databases daily. Here's a few tips to make your searches easier and more productive. :thumbsup:

You will find the same related claims in the lead file for but with more detail than a customer report. Save some time, a lead file report takes less time to run than a customer report and is more likely to return all the claims you want than a customer search will. I've found customer searches can be pretty unreliable for technical reasons related to the BLM database structure.

Another useful technique is to run a geo report on the subject area. It will return all the claims in just that area. It often returns claims you have no interest in but it will help reveal earlier senior claims or later junior claims in the same location. You will need that information before you locate anyway.

Heavy Pans
 
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Clay Diggins

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for BLM a notice of intent to hold is only filed the first year or the first year switching from the small miners waver to paying the maintenance fees.
some states like California recorders require a filing every year for taxes or acknowledgement of waved fees

All states require an annual public record be made for your claim, usually at the County Recorder. Only a few states/counties require tax payments. There are several situations where an intent to hold will apply, not just the first year of a small miner's waiver. When just maintenance fees are paid every state still requires an annual recording. Often that annual record is called a Notice of Intent to Hold and sometimes it's just called an affidavit, no matter what it's called the requirement is there.

It's a good idea to get acquainted with your State's laws on mining claims because often there are additional requirements and shortened recording deadlines compared to the federal laws. Here's an example of an often misunderstood mining claim law in California. it's just part of the law and it's a little long but there are several items highlighted that might be a surprise to many claim owners:

________________________________________________________________

"3913. (a) Whenever labor is performed, improvements are made, or a
maintenance fee is paid as required by law upon any mining claim
, the
person on whose behalf the labor was performed, improvements made,
or a maintenance fee was paid, or someone in his or her behalf,
shall, within 30 days after the time required by law for performing
the labor, making the improvements, or paying the maintenance fee,
make and have recorded by the county recorder, in the county in which
the mining claim is situated, an affidavit setting forth all of the
following:

(1) The name of the claim and the serial number, if any, assigned
to the claim by the Bureau of Land Management in the United States
Department of Interior.
(2) A reference by book and page or document number to the public
record of the notice of location of the claim
and, if amended, of the
last recorded amendment thereof.
(3) The section or sections, township, range, and meridian of the
United States survey within which all or any part of the claim is
located.
(4) A description of the labor performed or improvements made upon
or for the benefit of the claim for which the proof is made, the
value of each item, and the dates on which, or the period of time
within which, the labor was performed or the improvement was made, or
a statement that a maintenance fee in the amount prescribed by the
laws of the United States has been or will be paid, the amount of the
maintenance fee, and the date of payment or anticipated payment.

(5) The name, current mailing address, and current residence
address of the person who makes the proof and of the owner of the
claim, as known to the affiant.
(6) A statement that the claim is held and claimed by the owner,
or the person making the proof if he or she is entitled to possession
thereof, for the valuable mineral contained therein.

(7) The name and address of the person who performed or made the
work and improvements described in the affidavit, as known to the
affiant, if applicable.
(8) A statement that all monuments required by law to have been
erected upon the claim and all notices required by law to have been
posted on the claim or copies thereof were in place at a date within
the assessment year for which the affidavit is made and a statement
of the date.

(9) A statement that, at that date, each corner monument bore or
contained a marking sufficient to appropriately designate the corner
of the mining claim to which it pertains and the name of the claim.
(b) An affidavit recorded as required by subdivision (a), or a
copy thereof duly certified by the county recorder, shall be prima
facie evidence of
the performance of the labor, the making of the
improvements, or the payment of the maintenance fee as stated in the
affidavit.

(c) The neglect or failure of the owner of any mining claim to
record, or cause to be recorded, within the time allowed by this
section an affidavit containing the statements required by
subdivision (a) creates a prima facie presumption of the act and
intent of the owner to abandon the claim at the end of the assessment
year
within which the labor should have been performed, the
improvements should have been made, or the maintenance fee should
have been paid under the laws of the United States, and imposes the
burden of proof upon the owner of the claim to show that the labor
has been performed, that the improvements have been made, or that the
maintenance fee has been paid in any contest, suit, or proceeding
touching the title to the claim. "
________________________________________________________________

Notice that all these things must be done by September 30 of each year in California to keep the claim. Although California is fond of making laws with a lot more words than other states you will find similar requirements in every other mining state.

Heavy Pans
 
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OwenT

OwenT

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I called the recorder and she couldn't find any records from the claimant since 2018. I hope I can make the trip on Thursday after class. Until then, I have to prepare to make sure I know how to do this to the letter and decide on a name of course.

I also have to decide whether to file a lode or placer claim. Sorry, this isn't actually gold, but I knew I'd get the help I needed here. The deposit of interest is actually a gypsum dome. A mass of crystallized gypsum sticking up out of the ground. The previous guy had a placer claim on it. The deposit is not necessarily a 'vein', but the minerals are still in situ which makes me lean towards a lode claim. Furthermore, I would consider the deposit to have well-defined boundaries even though they are more circular than linear. The only things that makes me think placer, is that the deposit doesn't fit squarely enough in the criteria for a lode claim given on the blm website and therefore falls under the blanket of "all other" deposits.
 

Clay Diggins

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So in California we have until September 30th to record our Affidavit, and then until December 31 to get a copy to BLM?

Yes ... California labor affidavits must be recorded by September 30.

No ... that would be a mistake. The copy of your recorded labor affidavit is due at the BLM State office by end of day December 30th. Waiting until December 31 will result in losing your claim.

Heavy Pans
 
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OwenT

OwenT

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Well, I went and staked it yesterday. When I got there a looked at the old paperwork I noticed it said a different County on it so I had a mini heart attack thinking I messed up. I went ahead anyway and it wasn't until I drove back about 15 minutes into service that I confirmed that I had the correct county and I even called in to check with the other county if anything had been filed there recently. This guy had claims in both counties but hasn't filed any paperwork in either since 2018, so I'm well in the clear I think. I get the feeling that not many people know that they have to record that they've paid their fees and there's a lot of claims with missing paperwork out there.
 
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OwenT

OwenT

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A little update and I hope I might get some advice on the situation. My claim is now active. I called the BLM field office yesterday to ask about making a POO because I want to use power tools and be able to sell the crystals. I was told by the geologist that they *think* the gypsum formation is a Native American sacred site based on "the mythology" but they don't have any proof. She said I was welcome to file a POO and they would then look into it more so I left it there and thanked her for the information.

Of course, I don't want to defile a sacred site if there is some legitimacy to that, but assuming otherwise I don't want to press the issue until I have a clear plan. I fear that if I submit a POO, the BLM will dig into it and it will go to consultation with the tribes which will result in absolute protection of the site, prohibiting even casual collecting. On the other hand, if I don't try to move it forward, I won't ever get to really mine it either. If they don't have "proof" I don't know what kind of ability they have to decide I can't mine it, but I get the feeling that it will be a very subjective decision and not in my favor.
 
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OwenT

OwenT

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you don't need a POO to use power tools.
After reading the CFR, looks like you're right. In the section about plans of operations and the casual use definition, it only distinguishes between "hand tools" and mechanized earth-moving equipment as well as truck-mounted equipment. The question then is just whether or not my disturbance is negligible.

The BLM geologist also told me in order to sell any of the material I mine, I would need a plan of operations, however, I can't find anything in the law to back that up.
 

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