Truth about 1872 Mining Law

The “Foresters” claim they are obligated to follow the rules of the 1872 Mining Law, which they must have never read, and truth is, the law is hard to find. With all the devastation to our public lands being accomplished by the Government because of the 1872 Mining Law, one would think that the mining law would be posted on a Government website. Having found it, and read it, it is clear why on one wants you to see it. They could no longer enable mining corporations, especially foreign corporations, to destroy our forests.

From the following, it is clear that the 1872 Mining Law does not enable mining in our national forests, it is fallacious to insinuate that it does.

The 1872 mining law states:

Claimants are to be citizens of United States :

CHAP. CL. II --- As Act to promote the Development of the mining Resources of the Untied States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all valuable mineral deposits in lands belonging to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, are hereby declared to be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they are found to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the United States and those who have declared their intention to become such, under regulations prescribed by law, and according to the local customs or rules of miners, in the several mining-districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States .

The size of the claim is limited:

Sec.2. That mining-claims upon veins or lodes of quarts or other rock in place bearing gold, silver, cinnabar, lead, tin, copper, or other valuable deposits heretofore located, shall be governed as to length along the vein or lode by the customs, regulations, and laws in force at the date of their location. A mining-claim located after the passage of this act, whether located by one or more persons, may equal, but not exceed, one thousand five hundred feet in length along the vein or lode; but no location of a mining-claim shall be made until the discovery of the vein or lode within the limits of the claim located. No claim shall exceed more than three hundred feet on each side of the Middle of the vein at the surface, nor shall any claim be limited by any mining regulation to less then twenty five feet on each side of the middle of the vein at the surface, except where adverse rights existing at the passage of this act shall render such limitation necessary. The end-lines of each claim shall be paralleled to each other.


The law enables only vein mining, not placer mining. Mining bedrock with 10% mineral content or less (usually less than 1%) falls under the category of placer mining, not vein, surface mining. The standard copper content is 0.5%, so it would require 1,000 lbs. of waste rock to produce 5 lbs of copper, or 10 lbs per ton.

The non-mineral land that is used for milling, etc. can be patented, but it is not to exceed five acres per claim.

FORTY-SECOND CONGRESS. Sess. II Ch. 152. 1872. 96

Sec. 15. That where non-mineral land not contiguous to the vein or lode is used or occupied by the proprietor of such vein or lode for mining or milling purposes , such non-adjacent surface ground may be embraced and included in an application for a patent for such vein or lode, and the same may be patented therewith , subject to the same preliminary requirements as to survey and notice as are applicable under this act to veins or lodes : Provided, That no location hereafter made of such non-adjacent land shall exceed five acres , and payment for the same must be made at the same rate as fixed by this act for the superficies of the lode. The owner of a quartz-mill or reduction-works, not owning a mine in connection therewith, may also receive a patent for his mill-site, as provided in this section.


The General Mining Law of 1872, as amended (30 USC 29 and 43 CFR 3860, provides the successful mining claimant the right to patent (acquire absolute title to the land) mining claims or sites if they meet the statutory requirements. To meet this requirement, the successful claimant must:

  1. For mining claims, demonstrate a physical exposure of a valuable (commercial) mineral deposit (the discovery) as defined by meeting the Department's Prudent Man Rule and Marketability Test.
  2. For mill sites, show proper use or occupancy for uses to support a mining operation and be located on non-mineral land.
  3. Have clear title to the mining claim (lode or placer) or mill site.
  4. Have assessment work and/or maintenance fees current and performed at least $500 worth of improvements (not labor) for each claim (not required for mill sites).
  5. Meet the requirements of the Department's regulations for mineral patenting as shown in the Code of Federal Regulations at 43 CFR 3861, 3862, 3863, and 3864.
  6. Pay the required processing fees and purchase price for the land applied for.

From the 1872 Mining Law, we find four discrepancies with the current Augusta Resource Corp./Rosemont Copper Mine project:

1) Augusta Resource Directors and stockholders are not U. S. Citizens.

2) It is clear that the mining claim for the individual prospector is limited.

3) Land intended for milling, etc. is to be patented.

4) Patented land intended for milling, etc. should not exceed five acres.

In addition, the BLM website outlines statutory regulations that would nullify any permitting of the Augusta Resource Corp./Rosemont Copper Mine Mine project.

1) The company does not have clear title to the mill site. It is required by 1872 mining law that the land be patented by purchase.

2) The company must have done assessment work and/or maintenance fees of at least $500 for the life of the claim. Therefore, these claims were null and void at the time of their purchase from ASARCO. The records that show that Augusta Resource Corp./Rosemont Copper Mine has fulfilled this obligation on all their claims must be shown—except for 5 acres allowed for mill sites.

3) The company has not paid the required processing fees and purchase price for the land they have applied for to be used as waste and tailings dumps.