Log in

View Full Version : Abandoned equipment under new mining claims?

10-29-2012, 05:33 PM
Does anyone have an idea on either State Law or just plain etiquette on staking mining claims over abandoned or not abandoned stuff. Alaska is filled with old cabins and abandoned things, so what happens when you stake a claim over something like that. Can you then take possession of and utilize those things? Any ideas would be welcome, or even stories good or bad about this. I can imagine someone out there has experienced something like this.

10-29-2012, 05:58 PM
The law is very explicit. The Federal Case law was decided in Anchorage and remains the law of the land on Federal Domain. Mining claims on State land allow "posessory use" of an existing cabin. The state of Alaska remains the absolute owner.

You didn't mention the other "things". But here goes:

1. Real-estate fixed to the ground remains fixed.

2. Rolling Stock is considered abandoned when the mining claim is abandoned. Public notice is required.

3. Fuel tanks and other items - not buried in the earth become the property of the new claimant. Public notice is required.

4. Buried items are subject to discovery and are "Finders keepers". Defined as the finder takes ownership.

5. All of the above revert to ownership of the Federal or State government when abandoned. The USFS is now taking this stand on cabins and not allowing posessory use by the public or for mining use.

Alaska State Mining claimants may use an existing cabin under an APMA and the use must be stated in the APMA. Cabins otherwise are in trespass and the State may elect to destroy the cabin or have it destroyed. I have seen this process carried out. If you build a cabin under the terms of an APMA, it becomes personal property. You are usually required to move it or disassemble the cabin and remove the materials as part of the APMA.

- Geowizard

10-29-2012, 06:06 PM
Great information, thanks. That was my other question that I thought of, about use of the cabins. Thanks again.

10-29-2012, 06:44 PM
I have not read up on it for a while, it was my understanding that when a claim is abandoned the owner has 180 days to remove all personal property, after that the state can dispose of how they see fit. (and charge the previous claim holder)
I explored this when I had the chance to get my claims..
My camp and some equipment was on the claims when I got them, but they were included in the deal.
This is on state land.

10-29-2012, 10:20 PM
yeah also on my claim there is a track hoe that has been sitting there forever . along with a few tankers for fuel . so does that me i would own that now ?

10-30-2012, 08:32 AM
yeah also on my claim there is a track hoe that has been sitting there forever . along with a few tankers for fuel . so does that me i would own that now ?

No .... it does not.
Read Geowizard post again. There are steps you have to take to claim abandoned property.

Be careful .... not everything is an asset!

Steve Herschbach
10-30-2012, 08:39 AM
"Be careful .... not everything is an asset"

Very wise words. Lets say there is a fuel spill on your new claim. If you do nothing to document it immediately as pre-existing with the appropriate agency it could, if discovered at a later date, get hung around your neck! Same with batteries, old fuel, etc. you may end up having to dispose of it at your expense. Be cautious.

10-30-2012, 09:14 AM
I have a question regarding property ownership supposedly going to the state if a claim is abandoned. Say a claim owner abandons his claim and this claim has a camping trailer and an excavator parked on it. Are you saying that once the claim is abandoned, the previous claim owner forfeits his right to recover his property or sell that property to the next claim owner? I'm not talking about this property sitting for years on state land. But I question the idea that someone could loose their property rights just because they decided they did not want to mine there anymore and planned to recover their property the next summer.

10-30-2012, 10:45 AM
"Explicit" means with "absolute clarity". This cannot be and is not nebulous or vague. Property, whether real-estate or personal property has ownership at every instant in time...

The owner of a mining propery "knows" that he is abandoning his/her mining property BEFORE it is abandoned. It isn't a surprise. It is therefore, the owners responsibility and obligation to protect and take reasonable care to remove equipment from the mining claim(s) BEFORE the mining claim is abandoned. IF mining equipment remains after the mining claims are abandoned - the equipment is also abandoned. "Public notice is required".

It's a two page dissertation by the Regional Solicitor to the anchorage office of the BLM, August 7, 1979;

"The finder/claimant MUST assert ownership before the US Government does so.."

The form of the public notice is:

(Todays date)

"Notice of Declaration and Assertion of Ownership"

I _______, have lawfully acquired the _____ mining claim effective (date). I HEREBY assert ownership of all equipment and/or mining related property that was abandoned on said mining claim(s) effective the date of my posting said mining claim. This declaration is pursuant to: 170 ALR 707, 708.



I am not an attorney. I do not offer legal advice. Any comment that I make with reference to legal subject matter represents a personal opinion on the subject. I recommend consulting an competent attorney on all legal matters!


I also would recommend "Handbook of Mineral Law", Terry S. Maley

- Geowizard

10-30-2012, 11:37 AM
Of course property is owned. The question is when that property changes ownership. A state mining claim is considered "abandoned" if the rental fees and annual labor affidavit are not filed timely. I seriously question that one's personal property transfers to ownership by the state as soon as the state mining claim on which it sits is considered "abandoned". I think it is a matter of how long said equipment has been left abandoned. DanAk's research says 180 days. If I get my four-wheeler stuck in the mud on state land and have to leave it over the winter, does that mean I no longer own it?
I can believe that derelict property could become property of the state. However, I believe that the state would have to assert that ownership right. (Just as a new claim owner would have to serve public notice and persumably this could be challenged by the property owner.) In the case of a titled vehicle this is pretty straight forward. If I still have the title and the state does not, it is obviously still mine if the state has not taken legal action to assert ownership. Related, if a private individual were to buy a car without a title, to get a title that person has to get a bonded title in case the person holding title shows up and demands the car.

Steve Herschbach
10-30-2012, 12:41 PM
The state is not interested in taking possession of anyones property. If you have a claim and you have stuff on it and you let the claim drop, basically nothing happens. You are best advised to get your stuff before somebody steals it.

If you have a mining plan and a bond and you walk away depending on where you are and what we are talking about they may take the bond and use it to remove equipment or do other reclamation work. But very often in remote Alaska locations, especially on state claims, there was stuff there when you got the claims, and there is stuff there when you leave. Good claims usually go owner to owner, and the stuff just drifts along with the claim.

If the government ever gets involved, it will usually be all about proving the stuff is yours, and then sticking you with every dime possible to get the stuff removed. The state is not going to take your 4-wheeler, they are going to fly it out with a helicopter and send you the bill!

I'm not talking legalities here, just the practical realities of how it is for most small claim owners.

10-30-2012, 10:33 PM
Your wheeler would probably more likely be stolen or parted out before the state knew it was there, a D-8 stuck in a beaver pond would probably be of more interest to the state..

11-01-2012, 04:26 PM
When i give up my claims they will be the way i got them!There is a fine for littering in Ak.It disgusts me to see some of the locals that have abandoned their claims and left all their junk.Roads you can actually drive a pickup to the front door of the claims!! Its no different than shooting holes in signs on the hiway, gives guns a bad rap, i dont want any more regulations or expenditures.
This is one reason to prospect and walk your to be new claims. Mine had old tailing piles that werent reclaimed & a 40ft. dia. pit with junk in it. I gps the positions and put them in my APMA (which they ask for anyways)

Brian Berkhahn
11-01-2012, 08:48 PM
You are so right about the state fining for littering.. To make a long story short I leased my claims out and was facing a 10,000.00 fine from the DNR if they didn't get cleaned up. After I hauled out 7 full truck loads of garbage (that doesn't include what I could burn), leased a 580 backhoe to fill in the holes and had DNR & Forest Service come in to inspect I was let off the hook. They knew I didn't do the damage but since they were my claims I was still responsible for the mess and the bill.

11-04-2012, 09:37 PM
so what if the claims have changed hands and a big company has them.Can someone else do the paperwork on the old equipt. and take possesion?

11-05-2012, 06:17 AM
If the new claimant has not asserted ownership, you must prove ownership and convince the new claimant that you have a right to retrieve your property. Otherwise, legal action may be required to get a judgement in your favor.

The other possible case is abandoned equipment on someone elses claims or unclaimed mining property. No, you cannot remove property from an abandoned mining claim. You have no right or title to the property. You may assert ownership if the property is abandoned and you have control of the property on which it resides. The form outlined above is the minimum requirement.

Consult an attorney on all matters of legal question.

- Geowizard