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14 hours ago, Gold Catcher said:

one lady who was frantically looking for buried gold from a dead friend....

Aren't we all...


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After many years of hunting at Rye Patch I have come to the conclusion that you can detect BLM managed land (not necessarily BLM owned) without consequence anywhere in the Rye Patch area as long as it is not listed as an active claim.  Someone has to pay an annual fee in order to keep the claim active which means they want the mineral rights for themselves and not let me detect it.

You have to go to a reference source that will tell you active claims and then stay off of those unless you get permission which may include paying a fee to the claim owner.

I seek unclaimed land to detect.  No one has stopped me.

All BLM land is open for surface use claimed or not.

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On 10/16/2020 at 9:02 AM, WesD said:

Its always nice to have a good clear conscience when finding gold.

It's too bad so many don't follow this advice or seem to forget it when the gold is good...

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On 10/15/2020 at 9:34 PM, Gold Catcher said:

The past ten time I have been to RP I saw 2 people in total. The place is basically given up, unless some special events are taking place in form of sporadic outings/learning courses. I try to stay on unclaimed land, but honestly, nobody cares where you are detecting, really (which should not be an invitation however to not care)

These claim owners care.....


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On 10/18/2020 at 2:24 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

These claim owners care.....

Thanks, Steve. Yes, that's why I am always careful to remain on unclaimed land. At times though, it is hard to exactly pinpoint where you are with not a soul out there, and claim markers are sometimes missing. But the apparent deserters there should not be an invitation. But at least people there are not pointing a gun at you, like this happened to me in AZ (even though I was right then, the claim I was on was expired. But I didn't feel like arguing...)

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On 10/18/2020 at 2:24 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

These claim owners care.....



Many claims in that thread were sold at a great profit.  Miners mining miners.   The original claimers did not keep them.  It was a 'flip.'  The new claim holders have paid a fee in some cases.  Anyone looking at that thread needs to look at a new My Land Matters map and see who is current with their fees and out of respect to them detect some place else.

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2 hours ago, mn90403 said:


Many claims in that thread were sold at a great profit.  Miners mining miners.   The original claimers did not keep them.  It was a 'flip.'  The new claim holders have paid a fee in some cases.  Anyone looking at that thread needs to look at a new My Land Matters map and see who is current with their fees and out of respect to them detect some place else.

That's what anyone should be doing all the time. Selling a claim is not miners mining miners. It's not a "flip" or any other derogatory term you want to come up with for a legal activity. That implies there is something wrong with the practice. It's perfectly legal to stake claims, and perfectly legal to sell them. 

How the claim came about does not matter, all that matters is whether it is valid and current. Further, it's not about respect per se, though that is a nice sentiment. Detecting on a mining claim without permission of the owner is mineral trespass and possible theft, and can have legal consequences. It's not just being nice, it's keeping out of genuine trouble.

From More Info on Highgrading and Rye Patch"

"This is disturbing to me Mitchel. I made that map and all it shows is who the land manager is and which sections have claims. The simple fact that the BLM is the land manager does not mean the land is open to prospecting or claim.

I took the next step for you. I downloaded the Master Title Plat (MTP) for that Township with a click on the Land Status map. The MTP clearly shows that most of the the odd numbered Sections have restricted minerals - as in not yours. So no you can't just look at a simple map and say to yourself "hmmm no claims and it's BLM managed so I'm good to go".

The reason this is disturbing to me is myself and others have spent a lot of personal time and money providing free tools and tutorials so the average prospector/researcher can know how to do their legally required Due Diligence before they put boots on the ground. The tools and information are now freely available. Abdicating your personal responsibility to know the land status before you prospect because I provided a map of claimed areas was not the intent of my work. Please don't use Land Matters as an excuse for criminal behavior. Ignorance is never a defense against a prosecution for mineral trespass or mineral theft.

The talk here has been of "Claim Jumping". Claim Jumping is the act of trying to steal a mining claim with paperwork and lawyers. Taking minerals from a claim you don't have permission to prospect is highgrading - not Claim Jumping. Higrading in all cases involves the theft of minerals owned by someone else. Apples and Oranges.

I get correspondence from a lot of claim owners complaining of higraders. This is not new to mining. Several studies of commercial placer mines have shown that higrading is the biggest threat to a profitable operation. Anyone that has worked for the larger mining companies know they spend a lot of time, money and hours ensuring their minerals are not stolen. Higrading is on every mining companies radar.

I often hear excuses like "If the claim isn't marked it's OK to prospect" and the even more common "It's the claim owners responsibility to maintain signs". Neither is true, a few States require corners be checked on an annual basis but in point of fact most states have no legal requirement that claims must maintain markers. In several states corner markers are not required at all for some claims and monuments only have to be present at the time of location. Although as a practical matter the claim owner should do everything possible to put others on notice of the claim it is not the legal responsibility of the claim owner to use signs or markers to keep prospectors off their claim.

Prospectors, unlike the general public, have a positive legal duty to know the mineral status of the land before entering to prospect. The claim owner put other prospectors on legal notice when they recorded their "Notice of Mining Claim Location" into the public record. That public record suffices as proper notice under the law even if there are no stakes at the mining claim location. The public record is open for inspection to all people.  Potential prospectors need to examine the public record before entering the land to prospect. Land Matters provides links to all the County Recorders right on the Mining Claim maps to assist you in accomplishing that requirement.

Where Land Matters could do better is in providing the subsurface mineral status of the lands. As you've seen above not all BLM managed land is open to prospecting or location. It's not just a matter of mineral withdrawals but more subtle issues like those odd numbered sections in parts of Rye Patch that were reconvened and were never open to location. There was no withdrawal there because there were no mineral rights to withdraw. Often those minerals have already been sold or leased. If you are found extracting minerals from these restricted lands the BLM will bring charges of criminal mineral theft. It happens quite often and is frequently prosecuted for something as simple as taking a pickup load of gravel or sand.

Then there is the big mass of "dark matter" that is the subsurface estate still owned by the United States. There are nearly 7 million acres of mineral lands, often available for prospecting and location, underneath private lands in the west. Mining companies know this and have legally mined private lands for years. It requires a huge amount of research to determine just where these hidden mineral lands are found. The BLM is tasked with maintaining the records of this huge subsurface estate but between the BLM and mining companies the attitude seems to be "out of sight - out of mind". With very few exceptions these records are available but virtually unobtainable by the average researcher. Land Matters has plans to map these subsurface mineral rights but it's a huge project with little public interest beyond the landsmen and oil and gas industries. We need to see some real public interest before we will commit the resources needed to complete such a big project.

Now to the tough part. Most of these complaints I receive of higraders are about metal detecting. Rarely do I hear of processing equipment being used. At least 9 out of 10 reports of higrading I receive are about metal detectorists taking the best and biggest gold. Several of you on this forum have been named by claim owners. I'm not the enforcement guy and I will not be calling you out in public but I do know. For small miners trying to protect their owned minerals from higrading the pointy finger is mostly about metal detectorists.

I do know that few of you set out with the intent to detect someone's minerals. In most cases these violations are due to ignorance, intentional or otherwise. Assuming that signs are required or that unclaimed BLM managed land must be available for prospecting are just two examples. I have heard from many prospectors that the big mining companies (or someone who appears to be working for a mining company) allow prospectors to work their claims. I've never found a prospector who had a name, phone number or signed release but this seems to be one of those things "everyone knows". I can tell you that no mining company that has public shares could ever legally allow you to prospect their claims without a work contract. The simple fact that you haven't been caught or run off does not amount to permission.

Please learn to do your own due diligence. Please respect mineral owners rights, those minerals are their private property under the law. With a little luck and hard work you could own a good deposit yourself.


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I hunt on land where permission has been granted.   As I've said, I don't hunt on land that has a listed claim.  I've paid claim owners that want to charge and I've been a member of clubs which have access to claims all over the area.  I go to areas way outside of that little map listed there.


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Land rights in Australia worth a read before you take a mining claim on privately owned land. By the way find out what rights and minerals a claim owner has.

Dear yyyyyyyyyyy, I own my own property in Australia. I was wondering how much space directly above and below my land legally belongs to me? For example, do I own the land all the way down to the centre of the Earth, or does it become government/public property after a few feet? Likewise, does the airspace above my house technically belong to me? If so, how far up? Thank you, xxxxxxxxx.

Dear xxxxxxxxxx,

Usual caveat: we’re not lawyers and the exact rules differ between states and territories. With that out of the way, here is an overview of property laws in Australia as we understand them.

In the 13th century, property law subscribed to the Latin principle ‘cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos‘, which translates to: “whoever’s is the soil, it is theirs all the way to Heaven and all the way to the depths below.” This meant that property holders owned not just their plot of land, but 100% of the air and the earth in-between.

Surprisingly, the above maxim remains in practice as a traditional starting point for property law in the western world. Indeed, the legal definition of “land” continues to include earth and airspace in addition to the ground’s actual surface.

This affords the landowner certain protections. For example, it is against the law to mine minerals from beneath a property without the permission of the owner; even if their land’s surface wasn’t disturbed.

Likewise, a neighbour cannot build a property extension or erect a wire that overhangs another person’s land, regardless of how high up in the air it is. (A classic example of “airspace” rights — and one that has caused many a neighbourhood dispute — relates to tree branches encroaching onto another person’s property. In most cases, the affected land owner is entitled to cut these branches down.)

Under Australian common law, the surface owner’s rights extend downwards sufficiently to permit the extraction of minerals, which includes anything capable of being mined. As explained in the legal guidebook Australian Land Law in Context:

In the absence of any express or implied limitation of rights, an owner of land, at common law is entitled to the subsoil, ‘cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos’, and to the minerals therein.

The laws that govern airspace are a bit trickier. Naturally, you can’t restrict commercial aircraft from flying over your house as the sky is considered to be a public highway. Furthermore, the court can force you to remove structures that are considered an encroachment into airspace.

Private aircraft, including drones, are considered to be trespassing when traversing the land near to the surface. With that said, there does remain some legal uncertainty when it comes to aircraft flying over land. From the Australian Land Law in Context guidebook:

As long as an aircraft traverses a property at a reasonable height, having regard to all the facts and circumstances, there will be no liability for trespass. On the other hand, as a legislative trade off, there is strict liability should the aircraft cause damage to personal property such as would occur if the aircraft crashed into the land or into a structure erected on the land.

In other words, while your land rights don’t necessarily extend down to the Earth’s core or up to the cosmos, they aren’t non-existent either. Hope this helps!


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Let me relate this 'story' about the Rye Patch area.  Many years ago I got a call from a prospector and he said that he found over a half ounce nugget.  He wondered if I was coming up to detect with him and he would show me where he had found it.  I said sure.  This was about 8 years ago I think.  When I got up there a couple of days later to his camp he told me he had checked the location where he found it and it was on mining company land.  He called the mining company and told them he had found gold on one of their claims and if they wanted the gold he would give it to them.  He had gone on the claim by mistake.

He got a call back from the mining company manager and they told him it was ok for him to keep the gold.  They were not 'concerned' about his nugget but he needed to make sure he didn't dig or mine or use equipment on their claims.  They said if he wanted to he could take a picture and send it to them.  It was not a commercial quantity to them it seems.

We went to that location and didn't find any more gold but we did find other dig holes of those who had been there before us.

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