How to file a Notice of Intent on a BLM mining claim    

It's time to dig.  Here are the basics but not all inclusive information.

This article covers information about "permitting" 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.

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.

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 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.  

You can write it out 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 your equipment.  Send it off to the Field Office.  The Field office will do their research and may respond within 15 days.  If you've got some things that need clarified, they will request additional information.  If it is acceptable, they may let you know.  Each BLM office should have similar processes.  Notices containing occupancy requests and/or structures are more involved and I'd suggest you see appropriate counsel for all of this.  Exploration on State Land and Forest Service Land is different.

It is best to get to know your Field Office people.  Communication is the key.  If you have any questions, they are knowledgeable and will help or recommend you seek the advice of a mining professional.   

I have made a reproduction of a form the BLM once handed out as a suggested format.

These documents are hosts on and there may be updates available from the BLM or other governing agencies.

Notice of Intent in .pdf format

Public Handout 3809

Mine Plan

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 disturbance is 5 acres which includes any roads you may need to make to get to your exploration sites.  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.


Here's a link to another one of our articles on small mining operations

Thoughts on Small Mining Operations


These documents are hosted on 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.  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 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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