• BLM claim fees rise
BLM has again increased fees associated with mining claims. On September 1, 2013, BLM raised mining claim fees for new claims to $194 (up from $189) for the first 20 acres of a placer claim, mill site and/or tunnel site. Placer claims are still an additional $140 for each additional 20 acres.
The processing fee has also increased from $15 to $20.
• Critical minerals bill
A bill addressing critical minerals has been introduced in the US Senate. This would be a companion bill to HR 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, which passed in the House on September 18, 2013.
China has “cornered the market” on many of the critical minerals and metals, and currently produces over 95% of the rare earth elements.
Like the House version, the Senate bill would seek to streamline permitting and remove some of the roadblocks to getting a mine up and running when the commodity being mined is deemed to be critical or strategic.
• Sage-grouse habitat
Draft Resource Management Plans have been released for managing sage-grouse habitat in the western states.
The BLM will be seeking restrictions on millions of acres of public land across many western states in an attempt to preserve sage-grouse habitat. Public comments on the plans are due by January 29, 2014.
Plans have been split into regions, and you can view all of them from a central location online at www.blm.gov/sagegrouse/
Scroll down the page to the bottom and look for “November” to find links to the regional Resource Management Plans. Public meetings are scheduled for late November, December and January. There are too many public meetings to list them all here—please visit the website listed above to find the meetings in your area.