BLM’s regulations describe three different categories of use – (1) casual use, (2) activities that exceed casual use but disturb less than 5 acres, and (3) operations that exceed casual use that will disturb more than 5 acres. There are no permits required for “casual use” exploration (i.e., non-mechanical activities) such as geological mapping, geochemical sampling or geophysical surveying that may be conducted using GPS instrumentation without cutting or flagging a survey control grid. Surface disturbance greater than casual use on certain special category lands requires the operator to file a Plan of Operations and receive BLM approval (i.e., operations may not be conducted under the Notice provision of the regulations at 43 CFR 3809.11(c). As the Van Deemen project falls within a Designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) as designated by the BLM, exploration on the unpatented mining claims held by the Company would require a Mining Plan of Operation from the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) if there was to be any mechanized equipment used. Use of roads across BLM lands is governed by BLM rules and policies under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (“FLPMA”). The BLM also requires the posting of bonds for reclamation for any surface or subsurface disturbance caused by more than casual use (43 CFR 3809.500 through 3809.560).
Mining would be permitted in the ACEC so long as the all requirements are met, resulting in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
Prior to operation, the BLM Field Office having jurisdiction over the land in which the claims are located must be contacted, in this case the Kingman Field Office at 2755 Mission Boulevard, Kingman, Arizona 86401-5308, phone: (928) 718-3700, fax: (928) 718-3761. The office can advise on what type of work is allowable and steps required for casual work, notice or plan of operations, and bond requirements. It is recommended that the Company contact the BLM and/or State of Arizona well in advance of any field work to ascertain the full requirements for any exploration permitting. Thus, if any critical information is required for permitting it can be obtained without impacting the scheduling of the proposed exploration work.
Bureau of Land Management regulations (43 USC 1744; 43 CFR 3833.1-2) require that the locator of a mining claim, mill site, or tunnel site file a copy of the notice or certificate of location with the State Office of the Bureau of Land Management, along with a map showing the claim’s location. Failure to file this information within 90 days after the claim is located voids the claim. The certificate must include the name and current mailing address of the owner or owners, the type of claim, and the location of the claim by township, range, section(s), and quarter section(s).
According to the BLM website (www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/mining/claims.html), every year, on or before September 1, mining claimants must pay a ‘Claim Maintenance Fee’ to the BLM in advance of the current assessment year. This fee is US $140.00 for every 20 acres or portion thereof. Failure to pay the annual Claim Maintenance Fee per claim would cancel the mining claim with its rights and title.
Arizona law (ARS 27-208.D) http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/27/00208.htm&Title=27&DocType=ARS also requires that on or before December 31 of each year the claimant, or someone in his behalf, must make and have recorded with the County Recorder an affidavit of annual work. The affidavit of annual work or the affidavit of claim maintenance fee payment, when recorded, shall be prima facie evidence of the performance of the labor or improvements or of claim maintenance fee payment. Any affidavit shall include, if known to the locator, the identification of the section, township and range in which the notice of location of the claim is posted.
Future exploration work on the property may require the use of local ranch roads on private lands. The Company should gain permission from the local land owner for their use and maintain those roads in good condition.
Permits and Notices that may need to be approved and obtained prior to startup include the following:
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Aquifer Protection Permit.
- Arizona Department of Water Resources.
- Arizona State Air Quality Permit.
- Arizona State Mine Inspector Notification.
- Bureau of Land Management Occupancy Permit.
- Bureau of Land Management Mining Plan of Operation.
- Explosives Storage Permit.
- Mohave County Department of Health & Social Services Sewage Disposal System Permit No. 95-00163.
- Western Arizona Council of Governments.