A patent is the instrument by which the federal government conveys the legal title to mining claims. It is a title in fee simple unless it includes specified restrictions or reservations to the United States. It is not necessary to patent a mining claim and there is no time limit within which a claim must be taken to patent. One must weigh the advantages and disadvantages on a case-by-case basis. Some of the disadvantages of taking a claim to patent include (1) cost and effort, (2) possible provocation of contests with an adverse claimant or the government, particularly with regard to discovery, (3) inability to adjust the boundaries or rotate the claim after patent, (4) incurring of property taxes, and (5) dower rights attached to a patent in those states recognizing dower rights. Some of the advantages of a patent are (1) a fee simple title defensible against any encroachment or challenge, (2) title in fee that may be used as collateral to support mining activities, (3) elimination of the burden of assessment work and associated filing requirements, and (4) rights to surface resources including the land itself unless these rights are restricted in the patent. The advantages are particularly important to those attempting to hold the large blocks of claims that characterize many modern mineral prospects and may be of additional importance in view of numerous proposals to modify the General Mining Laws. Since 1872 the federal government has transferred over three million acres of the public domain to private ownership through more than 64,000 mineral patents, but most claims are never brought to patent.
KeywordsPlacer Location Placer Deposit Placer Mining Mill Site Mining Claim
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