Mining Law in Colorado

The development of the law surrounding mining claims in the United States is a fascinating subject. Once I began researching issues surrounding lode claims and placer claims, I realized that the foundations for the rules and law we follow today were established in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. They may have become more refined over time, but the basics have deep roots in the development of the Western United States. I am not going to attempt

Gold Prospector in the Mountains

to give a history of mining law. I will only provide some information to help clarify some of the issues surrounding filing and maintaining mining claims.


As I am a Colorado attorney, I will primarily describe the law as it is in Colorado. The general concepts of mining law in Colorado are similar to those of other states. There are differences which I will not attempt to describe. Also, this blog will be looking at mining claims involving minerals like gold, silver, gem stones, iron, etc. Oil and gas law will not be the subject of these posts. It also will be looking at mining claims on Federal land. State Mineral Lands will not be addressed.

Where to Start Looking

In general, you have to look at Federal Statutes, the Code of Federal Regulations and State Statutes when assessing mining claims on Federal lands . The Federal Statutes and Code of Federal Regulations define and describe what has to take place before a claim can be filed (discovery). These rules describe the types of minerals that can be claimed and the specific type of claim (lode or placer) that must be used for a specific site and mineral. They describe the maximum size and shape of the claim. State Statutes provide the method of filing a claim. This includes the method of marking and describing the claim and the process for recording the claim.

I will get more specific in the next posts.