“Ownership of mineral rights (more properly “mineral interest”) is an estate in real property. Technically it is known as a mineral estate, although often referred to as mineral rights. It is the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property.
The mineral estate of the land includes all organic and inorganic substances that form a part of the soil. Exceptions would be sand, gravel, limestone, subsurface water, etc. which are normally considered part of the surface estate.”
As interest in mining claims grows, so does the amount of misinformation that is perpetrated. Especially on eBay. In the last 10 years, we have seen mining claim values jump, dip and jump again. We have seen “experts” come and go. Promoters, looking to make a quick buck at the cost of the industry. This said, there have also been considerable fortunes made by customers that vetted their claims wisely.
Consider this a definitive guide about how to buy a mining claim from experts in the field. We have been working with mining claims all across the western states for years. This review comes from unparalleled knowledge, and unlike other reviews, can all be verified with state and federal agencies. Nothing is subjective here, just facts.
If you are investing in a house, you get an agent and make sure everything is done right. So why would you invest in a claim without doing the same work. There are a lot of “weekend prospectors” who have very little knowledge, but are happy to tell you how to locate a mine. We say, look at the source, if they aren't prospering from their mines, they probably aren't good source of information.
To start, let’s get a few basic questions out of the way:
Mining claims come up for renewal every year on September 1st. If you don’t renew, you lose your claim. This is a hard date and there is no grace period. People die, go to war, and lose their claims for a variety of reasons. Companies go bankrupt or insolvent, so potentially, every year there are new claims.
No, you own the mineral rights. With the correct paperwork, you can fence off your claim and restrict public access.
Mining claims may be located on unreserved, unappropriated lands administered by the BLM, US Department of Interior and the unreserved , unappropriated Public Domain Land in the National Forests administered by the US Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture. Mining locations may be made in the states of Alaska, Arizona ,Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington And Wyoming. 43CFR 3811.2-1(a)
This depends on the level of mining you intend to execute. Most will want to start under the guide of Casual Use. This definition is different from state to state, but generally involves the use of no heavy machinery (over 10hp), less than 100 tons of material being removed from the site, and less than 5 acres of land disturbed.
Placer claims are for those who never really want a return from their claim. Placer gold, is gold that has weathered from the host rock where it was formed, and been "placed" either on a hillside or stream bed. Placer claims are cheap and you usually get what you pay for. Not even large dredging companies last for long with placer gold. You cannot break minerals out of rock with a placer claim. You cannot work underground or with a hammer with a placer. It’s purely to pick up leftovers. Placer claims cannot be located over lode claims.
Lode Claims are where your value is. With a lode claim you are chasing the “’lode", which is the main deposit of minerals. You will find gold, silver, copper, platinum and more in lode claims. This is how small miners become rich miners. This is also how small companies become massive. Open the right lode and its like cash pouring out. Lode claims are what mining companies acquire because they have legitimacy. You cannot locate a placer over a lode claim. A lode claim can be placed over a placer claim.
Location, accuracy and peace of mind. It surely seems easy to find old mines and claim it. But is it already claimed? Maybe it’s private? Maybe the land has been withdrawn. Sure it looks easy, but there are a myriad of issues that can be found with land.
Consider also why the mine is abandoned. There are thousands of mines out there; most of them have miniscule minerals. Do you know what to look for? There is extensive leg work in finding a good mine that has good minerals. The average person doesn’t have the time or the knowledge to locate sites of real value.
Last but not least is the filing. What if your paperwork is wrong or not filed with the right people? What if your mapping skills aren’t quite up to snuff. Then you don’t have a claim. The BLM might not tell you right off the bat, it might take 6 or 8 months, and then suddenly you are liable for anything you ever touched on that ground!
That's the million dollar question, and a benefit to finding a claim on eBay. You can determine the value. Just because someone wants $10k for their claim, doesn't mean it’s worth it, you may never get anything out of that claim.
This is about doing your homework. Anyone can file a claim and sell it to you. Research your seller and determine their end goals. In the end, it comes down to knowledge and expertise. Find a good company, with a good reputation, and then find a site that you feel good about. Your seller should be able to answer all your questions and help you make your claim a sound investment.