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Mining Law and Legal Issues

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually (but not always) from an ore body, vein, or (coal) seam. Materials commonly recovered by mining include bauxite, coal, copper, diamonds, iron, gold, lead, manganese, magnesium, nickel, phosphate, platinum, salt, silver, tin, titanium, uranium, and zinc. Other highly useful materials that are mined include clay, sand, cinder, gravel, granite, and limestone. Any material that cannot be grown from agricultural processes must be mined. Mining in a wider sense can also include extraction of petroleum and natural gas.

The Mining Act of 1872 is U.S. federal legislation which authorizes and governs prospecting and mining for hard rock minerals such as gold and silver. It codifies the system of acquiring mining claims on public land that was formed in California and Nevada in the late 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, during periods such as the California gold rush.

A big part of prospecting is of course based on laws and legal statutes. Primarily the Mining Law of 1872 is still in effect today. It is always a good idea to be reasonably sure where you are prospecting is legal ground, who wants to speak to a judge, lawyer or court of law? Mineral rights and property ownership change constantly and no one person can keep up with it all. A quick call to your local BLM, Forest Service or Law Enforcement agencies can be a good idea if you have any legal questions.

Here are a few helpful links:

1872 Mining Laws  BLM Link  National Mining Association