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1872 Mining Law & Summary
See Volume 30 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations for the complete 1872 Mining Law

§21. Mineral lands reserved

In all cases lands valuable for minerals shall be reserved from sale, except as otherwise expressly directed by law.

§22. Lands open to purchase by citizens

Except as otherwise provided, all valuable mineral deposits in lands belonging to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, shall be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they are found to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the United States and those who have declared their intention to become such, under regulations prescribed by law, and according to the local customs or rules of miners in the several mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States.

§23. Length of claims on veins or lodes

Mining-claims upon veins or lodes of quartz or other rock in place bearing gold, silver, cinnabar, lead, tin, copper, or other valuable deposits, located prior to May 10, 1872, shall be governed as to length along the vein or lode by the customs, regulations, and laws in force at the date of their location. A mining-claim located after the 10th day of May 1872, whether located by one or more persons, may equal, but shall not exceed, one thousand five hundred feet in length along the vein or lode; but no location of a mining claim shall be made until the discovery of the vein or lode within the limits of the claim located. No claim shall extend more than three hundred feet on each side of the middle of the vein at the surface, except where adverse rights existing on the 10th day of May 1872 render such limitation necessary. The end lines of each claim shall be parallel to each other.

§26. Locators’ rights of possession and enjoyment

The locators of all mining locations made on any mineral vein, lode, or ledge, situated on the public domain, their heirs and assigns, where no adverse claim existed on the 10th day of May 1872 so long as they comply with the laws of the United States, and with State, territorial, and local regulations not in conflict with the laws of the United States governing their possessory title, shall have the exclusive right of possession and enjoyment of all the surface included within the lines of their locations, and of all veins, lodes, and ledges throughout their entire depth, the top or apex of which lies inside of such surface-lines extended downward vertically, although such veins, lodes, or ledges may so far depart from a perpendicular in their course downward as to extend outside the vertical side-lines of such surface locations. But their right of possession to such outside parts of such veins or ledges shall be confined to such portions thereof as lie between vertical planes drawn downward as above described, through the end lines of their locations, so continued in their own direction that such planes will intersect such exterior parts of such veins or ledges. Nothing in this section shall authorize the locator or possessor of a vein or lode which extends in its downward course beyond the vertical lines of his claim to enter upon the surface of a claim owned or possessed by another.

§27. Mining tunnels; right to possession of veins on line with; abandonment of right

Where a tunnel is run for the development of a vein or lode, or for the discovery of mines, the owners of such tunnel shall have the right of possession of all veins or lodes within three thousand feet from the face of such tunnel on the line thereof, not previously known to exist, discovered in such tunnel, to the same extent as if discovered form the surface; and locations on the line of such tunnel of veins or lodes not appearing on the surface, made by other parties after the commencement of the tunnel, and while the same is being prosecuted with reasonable diligence, shall be invalid; but failure to prosecute the work on the tunnel for six months shall be considered as an abandonment of the right to all undiscovered veins on the line of such tunnel.

§28. Mining district regulations by miners: location, recordation, and amount of work; marking of location on ground; records; annual labor or improvements on claims pending issue of patent; co-owner’s succession in interest upon delinquency in contributing proportion of expenditures; tunnel as lode expenditure

The miners of each mining district may make regulations not in conflict with the laws of the United States, or with the laws of the State or Territory in which the district is situated, governing the location, manner of recording, amount of work necessary to hold possession of a mining claim, subject to the following requirements: The location must be distinctly marked on the ground so that its boundaries can be readily traced. All records of mining claims made after May 10, 1872, shall contain the name or names of the locators, the date of the location, and such a description of the claim or claims located by reference to some natural object or permanent monument as will identify the claim. On each claim located after the 10th day of May 1872, and until a patent has been issued therefor, not less than $100 worth of labor shall be performed or improvements made during each year. On all claims located prior to the 10th day of May 1872, $10 worth of labor shall be performed or improvements made each year, for each one hundred feet in Length along the vein until a patent has been issued therefor; but where such claims are held in common, such expenditure may by made upon any one claim; and upon a failure to comply with these conditions, the claim or mine upon which such failure occurred shall be open to relocation in the same manner as if no location of the same had ever been made, provided that the original locators, their heirs, assigns, or legal representatives, have not resumed work upon the claim after failure and before such location. Upon the failure of any one of several coowners to contribute his proportion of the expenditures required hereby, the coowners who have performed the labor or made the improvements may, at the expiration of the year, give such delinquent co-owner personal notice in writing or notice by publication in the newspaper published nearest the claim, for at least once a week for ninety days, and if at the expiration of ninety days after such notice in writing or by publication such delinquent should fail or refuse to contribute his proportion of the expenditure required by this section, his interest in the claim shall become the proper6ty of his co-owners who have made the required expenditures. The period within which the work required to be done annually on all unpatented mineral claims located since May 10, 1872, including such claims in the Territory of Alaska, shall commence at 12 o’clock meridian on the 1st day of September seceding the date of location of such claim.

Where a person or company has or may run a tunnel of the purposes of developing a lode or lodes. Owned by said person or company, the money so expended in said tunnel shall be taken and considered as expended on said lode or lodes, whether located prior to or since May 10, 1872; and such person or company shall not be required to perform work in the surface of said lode or lodes in order to hld the same as required by this section. On all such valid claims the annual period ending December 31, 1921, shall continue to 12 o’clock meridian July 1, 1992.

§29. Patents; procurement procedure; filling; application under oath, plat and field notes, notices, and affidavits; posting plat and notice on claim; publication and posting notice in office; certificate; adverse claims; payment per acre; objections; nonresident claimant’s agent for execution of application and affidavits

A patent for any land claimed and located for valuable deposits may be obtained in the following manner: Any person, association, or corporation authorized to locate a claim under sections 21, 22 to 24, 26 to20, 29, 30, 33 to 48, 50 to 52, 71 to 76 of this title and section 661 of Title 43, having claimed and located a piece of land for such purposes, who has, or have, compiled with the terms of sections 21, 22 to24, 26 to 28, 29, 30, 33 to 48, 50 to 52, 71 to 76 of this title and section 661 of Title 43, may file in the proper land office an application for a patent, under oath, showing such compliance, together with a plat and field notes of the claim or claims in common, made by or under the direction of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, showing accurately the boundaries of the claim or claims, which shall be distinctly marked by monuments on the ground, and shall post a copy of such plat, together with a notice of such application for a patent, in a conspicuous place on the land embraced in such plat previous to the filing of the application for a patent, and shall file an affidavit of at least two persons that such notice has been duly posted, and shall file a copy of the notice in such land office, and shall thereupon by entitled to a patent for the land, in the manner following: The register of the land office, upon the filing of such application, plat, field notes, notices, and affidavits, shall publish a notice that such application has been made, for the period of sixty days, in a newspaper to be by him designated as published nearest to such claim; and he shall also post such notice in his office for the same period. The claimant at the time of filing this application, or at any time thereafter, within the sixty days of publication, shall file with the register a certificate of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management that $500 worth of labor has been expended or improvements made upon the claim by himself or grantors; that the plat is correct, with such further description by such reference to natural objects or permanent monuments as shall identify the claim, and furnish an accurate description, to be incorporated in the patent. At the expiration of the sixty days of publication the claimant shall file his affidavit, showing that the plat and notice have been posted in a conspicuous place on the claim during such period of publication. If no adverse claim shall have been filed with the register of the proper land office at the expiration of the sixty days of publication, it shall be assumed that the applicant is entitled to a patent, upon the payment to the proper officer of $5 per acre, and that no adverse claim exists; and there after no objection from third parties to the issuance of a patent shall be heard, except it be shown that the applicant has failed to comply with the terms of sections 21, 22 to 24, 26 to20, 29, 30, 33 to 48, 50 to 52, 71 to 76 of this title and section 661 of Title 43. Where the claimant for a patent is not a resident of or within the land district wherein the vein, lode, ledge, or deposit sought to be patented is located, the application for patent and the affidavits required to be made in the section by the claimant for such patent may be made by his, her, or its authorized agent, where said agent is conversant with the facts sought to be established by said affidavits.

§30. Adverse claims; oath of claimants; requisites; waiver; stay of land office proceedings; judicial determination of right of possession; successful claimants’ filing of judgement roll, certificate of labor, and description of claim in land office, and acreage and fee payments; issuance of patents for entire or partial claims upon certification of land office proceedings and judgment roll; alienation of patent title

Where an adverse claim is filed during the period of publication, it shall be upon oath of the person or persons making the same, and shall show the nature, boundaries and extent of such adverse claim, and all procedings, except the publication of notice and making and filing of the affidavit thereof, shall be stayed until the controversy shall have been settled or decided by a court of competent jurisdiction, or the adverse claim waived. It shall be the duty of the adverse claimant, within thirty days after filing his claim, to commence proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction, to determine the question of the right of possession, and prosecute the same with reasonable diligence to final judgement; and a failure so to do shall be a waiver of his adverse claim. After such judgment shall have been rendered the party entitled to the possession of the claim, or any portion thereof, may, without giving further notice, file a certified copy of the judgment roll with the register of the land office, together with the certificate of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management that the requisite amount of labor has been expended or improvements made thereon, and the description required in other cases, and shall pay to the register $5 per acre for his claim, together with the proper fees, whereupon the whole proceedings and the judgment roll shall be certified by the register to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, and a patent shall issue thereon for the claim, or such portion thereof as the applicant shall appear, from the decision of the court, to rightly possess. If it appears from the decision of the court that several parties are entitled to separate and different portions of the claim, each party may pay for his portion of the claim, with the proper fees, and file the certificate and description by the Director of the Bureau of Land Management whereupon the register shall certify the proceedings and judgement roll to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, as in the proceedings case, and patents shall issue to the several parties according to their respective rights. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the alienation of the title conveyed by a patent for a mining claim to any person whatever.

§35. Placer claims; entry and proceedings for patent under provisions applicable to vein or lode claims; conforming entry to legal subdivisions and surveys; limitation of claims; homestead entry of segregated agricultural land

Claims usually called “placers,” including all forms of deposit, excepting veins of quartz, or other rock in place, shall be subject to entry and patent, under like circumstances and conditions, and upon similar proceedings, as are provided for vein or lode claims; but where the lands have been previously surveyed by the United States, the entry in its exterior limits shall conform to the legal subdivisions of the public lands. And where placer claims are upon surveyed lands, and conform to legal subdivisions, no further survey of plat shall be required, and all placer-mining claims located after the 10th day of May, 1872, shall conform as near as practicable with the United States system of public-land surveys, and the rectangular subdivisions of such surveys, and not such location shall include more than twenty acres for each individual claimant; but where placer claims cannot be conformed to legal subdivisions, survey and plat shall be made as on unsurveyed lands; and where by the segregation of mineral land in any legal subdivision a quantity of agricultural land less than forty acres remains, such fractional portion, of agricultural land may be entered by any party qualified by law, for homestead purposes.

§36. Subdivisions of 10- acre tracts; maximum of placer locations; homestead claims of agricultural lands; sale of improvements

Legal subdivisions of forty acres may be subdivided into ten-acre tracts; and two or more persons, or associations of persons, having contiguous claims of any size, although such claims may be less than ten acres each, may make joint entry thereof; but no location of placer claim, made after the 9th day of July, 1870, shall exceed one hundred and sixty acres for anyone person or association of persons, which location shall conform to the United States surveys; and nothing in this section contained shall defeat or impair any bona fide homestead claim upon agricultural lands, or authorize the sale of the improvements of any bona fide settler to any purchases.

§37. Proceedings for patent where boundaries contain vein or lode; application; statement including vein or lode; issuance of patent: acreage payments for vein or lode and placer claims; costs of proceedings; knowledge affecting construction of application and scope of patent

Where the same person, association, or corporation is in possession of a placer claim, and also a vein or lode included within the boundaries thereof, application shall be made for a patent for the placer claim, with the statement that it includes such vein or lode, and in such case a patent shall issue for the placer claim, subject to the provisions of sections 21, 22 to 24, 26 to20, 29, 30, 33 to 48, 50 to 52, 71 to 76 of this title and section 661 of Title 43, including such vein or lode, upon the payment of $5 per acre for such vein or lode claim, and twenty-five feet of surface on each side thereof. The remainder of the placer claim, or any placer claim not embracing any vein or lode claim, shall be paid for at the rate of $2.50 per acre, together with all the costs of proceedings; and where a vein or lode, such as described in section 23 of this title, is known to exist within the boundaries of a placer claim, an application for a patent for such placer claim which does not include an application for the vein or lode claim shall be construed as a conclusive declaration that the claimant of the placer claim has no right of possession of the vein or lode claim; but where the existence of a vein or lode in a placer claim is not known, a patent for the placer claim shall convey all valuable mineral and other deposits within the boundaries thereof.

§42. Patents for nonmineral lands; application, survey, notice, acreage limitation, payment

(a) Vein or lode and mill site owners eligible
Where nonmineral land not contiguous to the vein or lode is used or occupied by the proprietor of such vein or lode for mining or milling purposes, such nonadjacent surface ground may be embraced and included in an application for a patent for such vein or lode, and the same may be patented therewith, subject to the same preliminary requirements as to survey and notice as are applicable to veins or lodes; but no location made on and after May 10, 1872 of such nonadjacent land shall exceed five acres, and payment for the same must be made at the same rate as fixed by sections 21, 22 to 24, 26 to20, 29, 30, 33 to 48, 50 to 52, 71 to 76 of this title and section 661 of Title 43 for the superficies of the lode. The ownerof a quartz mill or reduction works, not owning a mine in connection therewith, may also receive a patent for his mill site, as provided in this section.

(b) Placer claim owners eligible
Where nonmineral land is needed by the proprietor of a placer claim for mining, milling, processing, beneficiation, or other operations in connection with such claim, and is used or occupied by the proprietor for such purposes, such land may be included in an application for a patent for such claim, and may be patented therewith subject to the same requirements as to survey and notice as are applicable to placers. No location made of such nonmineral land shall exceed five acres and payment for the same shall be made at the rate applicable to placer claims which do not include a vein or lode.

§43. Conditions of sale by local legislature

As a condition of sale, in the absence of necessary legislation by Congress the local legislature of any State or Territory may provide rules for working mines, involving easements, drainage, and other necessary means to their complete development; and those conditions shall be fully expressed in the patent.