Sure, gold mining looks exciting, rewarding, and challenging. But let’s face it, you don’t have the first clue about where to find gold, or how to find a gold mining claim. Well, rest easy. Where there’s a will, there’s a claim…as long as you know where to look!
First thing’s first; you need to know the basics. Any United States citizen can procure a gold mining claim, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or equivalent Federal land agency, can help you locate lands available for development of a claim.
You also need to figure out which type of claim you are looking for. Lode claims/sites are those built on known or tested mineral deposits still in their original position in the bedrock. You’ve heard the term, “the mother lode”? This is where it comes from. A placer claim/site is categorized as any deposit, other than a lode, where gold in mixed in with sand and/or gravel. A tunnel site is a plot of land where a tunnel has been dug in order to find or develop a vein or lode (NOTE: These are not actually considered “mining claims,” but more a right-a-way to finding a claim). And finally, a mill site is non-mineral land, usually adjacent to a lode or placer site, where a mill can be built (as part of the lode or placer site). If all else fails and you’re not sure if you want to stake a claim in the area, you can file for a prospecting site. This will expire in two years, and cannot be renewed, but it will give you time to consider, explore, and test the area.
Once you find the right claim, you need to record the claim to make sure A) that you have an actual claim, and B) that the claim is yours to mine. Contact the BLM, and also the County Recording Office, within 90 days of locating your site. They will make sure you file the proper forms (and pay the necessary fees). You will also need to make sure you maintain your claim every year (basically that means more fees). (NOTE: A shortcut to this may be to contract with a claim staking service, but you will still need to pay close attention to all the paperwork and fees. Be sure to read the fine print).
Finding a gold mining claim is a lot of work, and even more paperwork, but at the end of the day, you will feel secure knowing this is your land, and the gold that may be under it is yours, too! And if that doesn’t work, you’ll have all the legal papers to back it up!