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Clay Diggins

Closed Mining Claim Research

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A lot of prospectors have an interest in exploring closed claims. I'm not a big fan of spending time looking for closed claims for the simple reason that most claims made never produced any valuable minerals. The fact that a claim was previously located is not an indicator of valuable minerals. After all if the claim owners didn't bother to keep the claim active it probably wasn't worth having.

There are of course exceptions to that theory but a closed claim on it's own doesn't excite me. I need to know more before I'm going to chase after previously claimed ground. There were more than 44,200 mining claims closed last year alone, that's way to many to make it worth anyone's time to read through without trimming out the thousands of recent claims.

Twice a month I do compile all the claim closures updated during that half month. To get any value out of those thousands of closed claims I need to sort them out on some reasonable basis. With the twice monthly Claims Advantage Report it is possible to interactively sort those recently closed claims by Location (State, County, TRS), Claim Name, Claim Type, Closure Date as well as Year Located and Years Held.

Sorting the Report by Location allows me to watch certain areas of particular interest to me. Only the Claims Advantage reports allow you to see that information on a current basis, the LR2000 doesn't have that information so that feature is helpful. Once I see a claim being closed in an area of interest I can zoom to a custom map of the closed area right from a button on the Report claim listing. That allows me to see other claims in the area as well as check land status by downloading the Master Title Plat from the map. I can also load the current Serial Register report page from a link on the report. That doesn't complete my research of the area but it does give me enough information to decide if it's worth my time to search the County Recorder for Claim Records.

That's pretty cool to have all that information available with a couple of clicks. I use the reports a lot myself. The real power of these Reports starts to shine when I sort by Year Located or Years Held. Remember how I said how most claims made never produced any valuable minerals? Well that doesn't really apply when you see someone has maintained a claim for many years. It makes me sit up and take notice when I see a claim that has been held for anywhere from 20 years to 125+ years. THAT is information I can use!

Being that I keep all this information on hand I can sort this information on a much longer timeline than the half month available in the Claims Advantage Reports. By sorting for all the Closed Claims that were held for at least 20 years or more AND were located on now unclaimed land I can see the claims that people valued and kept that are now open to location. That may sound like there wouldn't be that many established closed claims on productive ground right? Well surprise surprise! There are nearly 20,000 placer claims that meet that standard!

Naturally I share this information with my favorite charity Land Matters and naturally Land Matters makes this information available to it's Claims Advantage Members.

Here's a brief look at how these claims stack up in each State:

Surprising isn't it?

Here's a quick heat map to show the general location and density of all these open areas:

Here's a link to an online interactive map so you can look a little closer.

That's a whole bunch of open ground with a HIGH potential for valuable minerals. Whether you are looking for open ground to prospect or are researching for a potential new claim looking at this closed claim information from a more organized and selective angle can really pay off. If you are looking for an edge the Historical Placer Claims Report is a good start.


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The drop claims may be the ones they couldn’t find a sucker to buy them.

Thanks for all you do keeping us here informed!


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Clay your contributions to your fellow prospectors are nothing short of incredible!

I encourage everyone to become a member of mylandmatters.org

Half the battle in prospecting is trying to locate a place where we can legally do so.  

Clay and the good folks at mylandmatters make this process so much easier...

Please keep up the good work.

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On 11/28/2017 at 6:38 PM, Ridge Runner said:


The drop claims may be the ones they couldn’t find a sucker to buy them.

Thanks for all you do keeping us here informed!


That's the point of the Historical Placer Claims Report Chuck. ALL the claims listed were held for 20 years or more. There are no ACTIVE claims in the quarter section where the 20+ year claim was closed. Land Matters did the work of cleaning the Report of withdrawn areas, claims flippers and blanket claims. That produces a lot fewer potential open areas but it helps prospectors by giving them only valued, open areas to research. Still there were nearly 20,000 closed placer claims that survived the cull.

You comment does touch on an aspect of how the mining industry works. Junior exploration companies do claim up considerable area each year to secure the minerals while they carry on exploration. After 5-10 years of exploration if they don't have proof of a juicy deposit or they can't find a buyer/partner for the project they drop the claims and write off the expense as CODB. This is what accounts for the majority of claims turnover each year in my experience.

There is another much smaller group of companies that are created just to fleece paper mining investors. They look a lot like Junior exploration companies to the inexperienced. (Liberty Belle and Bre-X being examples) Those scams rarely last more than a few years. I've never known a claim flipper to keep a claim for 20 years or more. That would be a minimum of $3,100 in fees per claim in today's world. Out of the ~45,000 new claims located I doubt more than a couple of thousand could be located by flippers.

There is sometimes a fine line between legitimate mining claim locations made with the intent to prove and sell a mineral deposit and locations made to make a profit on reselling the claim. The real difference is the intent and the ability to do the exploration necessary to prove the value of a claim in the open market. All things being equal if the seller has no exploration work completed and no clearly described deposit the claim they are selling is worth just about the $500 it took to make the claim in the first place. It's still buyer beware out there.


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