Step 1 – Reconnaissance Mission to Your Claim
The first step is reconnaissance, you need to know what you are getting into before you are ready to pack your life up and head out to your claim. For some of you, you might want to include both the first step, reconnaissance, with the second step, sampling your mine, which is covered in the next article.
First thing that most people want to do is pack up the camper, and head out to the claim to get rich! This usually ends one of two ways.
- You head out to find that you are woefully unequipped for your journey. You are plagued with issues such as flat tires, car trouble, snake bites, lack of gear, etc… You spend about a week near your claim, finally finding it just to find that you are out of money and time to do anything.
- You head out to your claim, find it, and set up for some work! Just as a BLM or Forest Service Ranger shows up and politely tells you everything you can’t do. You end up heading home frustrated, angry and with nothing to show for the trip.
So how to mitigate these things? Well, the first thing you should do as with anything, is reconnaissance. Find out where the nearest town to your claim is. Knowing where the nearest supply point is can be a lifesaver and make your trip so much easier.
Pack up some clothes that are relevant to the climate and head out. If it’s far away, I would recommend you hop on a plane, grab a rental car with full coverage. If you are closer, then just hop in the car and take a ride.
Remember, this is recon. Plan for a few days to see the site and acclimate with the area. Determine the access to your claim. If it is a 4WD road, or a 2WD or maybe it’s a hike in only? (In the case of a hike only, you can submit for vehicle access in your Notice of Operation. The governing body has to provide reasonable access to the claim. This can easily be made to road access). Check the road, walk it first…ALWAYS… I know this sounds tedious, but if you are unfamiliar with the area, you should be aware of what you are getting into.
Visit the site in the day and visit in the night. Be aware of what’s around. Notice if there is any traffic our there. Examine the mine, examine the buildings, take pictures. Enjoy yourself, but document everything. Chat with the locals, get a feel for the area. Stay in the nearest town and understand the area.
When you get home, you can start making some educated plans for the next step. That being the submission of either a Notice of Intent(NOI) or a Plan of Operation (POO). This is a vital part of successfully working your claim. Your NOI/POI should be submitted to the appropriate agency (FS or BLM). More details about filing out a NOI/POO can be found here.
The BLM or FS will have 15 days from date of receipt of POO to respond with a “Yes, all is good, go ahead with your operation.” Or a “No, you are doing something we don’t like, we are going to ask you for a reclamation bond.”
If you get a “Yes” letter, rejoice! You have done your job well and you are ready to work. You can be assured that you won’t be bothered by Rangers, and additionally they will also know exactly what you are doing out there, so you won’t have to stop work to answer 50 questions. Nice work!
If you get a “No” letter, this isn’t the end. You will need to know your rights and respond in a quick and timely manner. Legal representation is priceless here, and you won’t regret the cost. Some companies will offer legal services, take advantage of these. Mining attorneys are few and far between and the good ones are twice as hard to find.
So now you have your Mining Claim, and your Notice of Operation approved, you are almost an official Miner. Your last step is to get out on the claim and spend some time actually Mining! But wait… how do you work your mine? If you are like most you could use a little refresher on small scale mining.
We will discuss taking samples from your mine in the next article!