How to file a Notice of Intent on a BLM mining claim
It's time to dig. Here is some basic information but not all inclusive and may not be the most current information.
This article covers information about "permitting" an NOI if you want to sample with heavy equipment for a number of reason including a small placer operation, excavating and metal detecting, or excavating a vein.
CREDIT: A big THANK YOU to those in the BLM that occasionally review the information on this site and suggest changes and updates.
A lot of people view these pages from all around the world to try to learn about mining, permitting, and other things. This knowledge is free and mostly public information and the whole idea is to make it easier on the people at the Field Offices so when they get an NOI, it is complete as possible so their job is easier. I realize there is nothing more frustrating than having a claimant that doesn't read the requirements and you have to repeatedly request more information. It must make them wonder how closely they will have to keep track of your activates and it takes time away from other work. Often times a claimant will have a ton of questions about what they can and can NOT do. Reading the applicable CFR is a good start, but there are interpretations and case law that matter. If you absolutely can not find the answer ALWAYS ask before doing it. Getting to know the people at the Field Office will get you off on the right foot and give you solid information to work with in planning your project.
The first steps in getting a mechanized sampling program going is to hand sample so you know where the likely gold deposits are you might want to bulk sample and provide further confirmation. The basic process is straight forward, but you may want to consult a mining engineer or other professional service to prepare your documents and make sure you are in compliance with other governing agencies. I do not offer that service.
Take notes and GPS coordinates of spots you want to bulk sample.
Put the information on a map that is of sufficient size that the BLM can find the area you're interested in sampling.
Make a route map so they can find the places easily.
Remember, they may(will) have to send out a geologist, mining engineer, biologist, and archeologist to examine the areas for such things as ancient ruins, existing disturbances, endangered wildlife, etc. The BLM wants a letter that contains the assigned mining claim reference number, claim name, and legal description. Describe the type of equipment and the process in which the equipment and sampling will occur. They want to know how soon you want to start and when you propose being done. A typical Notice of Intent is good for 2 years or a term less than two years if you can complete your exploration in that time. You can submit a request for an extension as you get to the end of your first two years, renewable in two year increments. They want to know about how frequently you'll be there digging. They want an accurate understanding of what you are doing so they can decide if it complies with 43 CFR 3809 and other regulations they oversee. A Notice of Intent allows you to disturb up to 5 acres and/or 1,000 tons of material maximum. If your process, equipment, or other things need to change during the course of your proposed project, amend your NOI and wait for confirmation BEFORE doing it. They will determine if an additional bond amount is applicable.
You can write it out complete in a few hours and get your point across so they understand it. Don't be wordy and over complicated. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. It's better to ask questions now than to be under their scrutiny later. Once you've got your format laid out, route map to the claim, and map of the area you want to sample, you'll fill in the bond calculator to see how much bond money you'll have to post in order to commence your sampling operation. Usually the bond is less than $3,000, depending on a lot of things like: equipment, wells, and access roads. Your mining professional can also help you estimate the bond amount. Your bond may be substantially more depending on all of the criteria your site requires and how the bond amount calculates out. Because you are in the "proving out" phase, it's best to make as little impact and disturbance as possible. If an existing road will work for a while, use it. If you must put in or change a road, it will slow down the approval of your NOI. If you determine that a road must be put in, you will have to get it approved and bold it. Next, send your information off to the correct field office. By now, I'd hope you've talked to them and are aware of the appropriate people you will be working with. If you've got something in your NOI that needs clarified, they will request additional information. If it is acceptable, they may let you know. Each BLM office should have very similar processes. Notices containing occupancy requests for a camper and/or structures are more involved and I'd suggest you seek appropriate counsel for all of this. At some point you will receive a "NOTICE COMPLETE" letter, and that is when your project should begin. No, you can not park your excavator or other substantial equipment on the claim without written approval until the NOI is approved. Chances are a BLM Ranger will pay you a visit.
It is best to get to know your Field Office people. Communication is the key. If you have any questions, they are VERY knowledgeable and will help or may recommend you seek the advice of a mining professional. If after exhausting all of your resources, you can't find an answer, I have found that emailing the person handling your NOI is the best form of communication. They will respond when they get the chance and if you've included your phone number, they usually follow up with a call if necessary.
In my experience, the people in the Field Offices are skilled professionals and very friendly people that love what they do. Respect that. You want to move into mining, they want to be sure you are a good steward of the land. If you hear bad stories, it's probably because someone wasn't following their NOI or didn't care enough to research the Regs.
These documents are hosts on arizonaminingclaims.com and there may be updates available from the BLM or other governing agencies.
Public Handout 3809
These are additional things you should review:
Guidelines for Handling Sonoran Desert Tortoises
Mining Claims and Sites on Federal Lands
Arizona Mining Summit
Federal Agencies relating to Mining
State of Arizona Agencies relating to Mining
A Notice of Intent is a pretty simple process that allows you the chance to put down the shovel and move a substantial amount of dirt with little effort. You may want a small portable digger, a backhoe, excavator, or bulldozer for your sampling. Under a Notice of Intent, the maximum surface disturbance is 5 acres which includes any roads you may need to make to get to your exploration sites. The bulk sampling limit is 1,000 tons. Setting up your own sampling operation can be cheap if you look for the right deals on equipment. A simple setup can include a backhoe, screen, sluice box, water tub, water pump, and a water container for transporting water. If your soil conditions are right, you may dig it and run it through a drywash plant. You may also simply dig the dirt and metal detect it for nuggets. All of these methods can be effective if you've got the right mining claim. The purpose of the Notice of Intent is to allow bulk sampling of the site to determine whether the site has potential to be developed into a full blown mine. So this is one step in the process. Be as organized and thorough as you can in sampling. You are there to determine if your hand sampling matches your bulk sampling. It is almost certain that the next step, a Plan of Operation, will require a paid mining professional. When they review your sampling notes, be sure you are as complete as possible.
Here's a link to another one of our articles on small mining operations
Thoughts on Small Mining Operations
These documents are hosted on arizonaminingclaims.com and there may be updates available from the BLM and other agencies. You may post links to this page, but NOT to the documents directly, please.
Disclaimer: The information provided is NOT legal advice and should not be construed as such in ANY way. The material is provided for informational purposes only and may be out of date or incorrect(as much as I try to be sure it is correct). This is in NO WAY intended to be a complete dissertation of what you need to do. Seek your own qualified legal counsel before doing anything. Every state is different in their state regulations. Federal Regulations should be the same across the nation, but some have special restrictions. Waterways and drainages are under the jurisdiction of the Army Corp of Engineers and other agencies.
ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS FIRST!
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