Staking A Mineral Claim On Utah Land Only Takes Four Rods, A Note And A $212 Filing Fee

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Nearly 2 million acres of federal and state land in Utah are about to lose federal protections, opening the land to mineral claims for those willing to work through a claims system devised in the late 1800s, Reuters reports.

President Donald Trump announced significant cuts to two national monuments in December. Those cuts are scheduled to go into effect Friday, removing a ban on development and throwing the lands back under the authority of the General Mining Law of 1872, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials told Reuters.

Private citizens and companies can stake claims on the land for gold, silver, copper, and uranium mining. To stake a claim, according to the law, a prospector places four rods in the ground marking off an area no larger than 20 acres. The prospector must leave a note describing the claim attached to one of the rods, then has 30 days and needs $212 to file the claim with the BLM.

Other than a $150 annual maintenance payment, nothing else is needed to secure mineral rights to the land, though not ownership.

The areas about to lose federal protections are within the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which Trump cut by about 85 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Altogether, national monument status will be dropped from roughly 1.9 million acres of federal and state land.

Multiple lawsuits are pending against the Trump administration for rolling back the designations. Environmentalists claim that Trump is giving the land to “extractive industries who would gut our natural wonders.”

“You know the best how to take care of your land, you know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come,” Trump said while announcing the cutbacks. “Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away.”

Industry may not be interested in pursuing new opportunities in those areas of Utah soon to lose federal protection. Uranium mining companies, thought to be the principal beneficiaries from the fresh territory, are far from scrambling to stake claims until the price of uranium increases significantly from its current price of about $25 a pound.

“The current price of uranium is not likely to warrant any new claiming,”Kyle Kimmerle, whose family has more than 100 claims already staked throughout Utah, told Reuters. “It would take $60-$70 for me.”

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