The mining industry is very tricky from start to finish. A lot of people are familiar with the traditional buying and selling of real estate, and even traditional buying and selling of commercial real estate, because they’re used to this on a daily basis. People buy a home; they’re familiar with the process. There are real estate brokers that are familiar with the process that don’t have to be lawyers to understand, because it’s not an incredibly complicated process for the most part.
Mining is different, and that’s because there are various classifications on the type of mining land there are. For example, there are patented and unpatented mining claims. A patented mining claim is almost the same, or analogous to, owning the property. If you’re a homeowner, you may familiar with a residential contract.
An unpatented mining claim is just the right to mine and take the minerals of that property, and you have to reclaim the property. You can’t build on it for purposes other than for mining property. You couldn’t build your house there or anything on those lines.
There are also issues with respect to locating the mining claims. It’s a very tricky to say the least. We’re still operating under the mining laws of 1892 with amendments. Needless to say, it is not a simple area.
There are not a lot of mining lawyers out there. A lot of people will hire their regular lawyer; perhaps he or she helped them through a divorce for them or with a contract. Lawyers get involved in those without realizing exactly how difficult and how extensive this area of practice is.
There are a lot of pitfalls that you could fall in. I couldn’t tell you a single client of mine that’s had a mining issue that hasn’t come to me with a clean mining claim that didn’t need to be fixed immediately. If you run the risk, you pay a lot.
Mining is not cheap— many times it can be in the multi‑millions if you’re buying an established claim.
The point is, the lawyer should be part of every mining business and it should not just be a lawyer. It should be a mining lawyer. A mining lawyer can help you through every process and ensure that what you are doing is correct under the eyes of the law.