How to Buy a Mining Claim

Placer ClaimsThere are a few guidelines on how to buy a mining claim that you should follow before you ever put any money down. These guidelines will help you avoid pitfalls and increase the likelihood that you will be happy with the claim you end up buying. For those who don't know, a mining claim gives you ownership of mineral rights in a defined area of public land. A placer claim gives you the rights to surface material, for example gold and silver that is found above the bedrock.  A lode claim gives you the rights to minerals found in the hard rock, which means you will likely be working underground.


How to Buy a Mining Claim - the Definite Guide

Mine TunnelAs interest in mining claims grows, so does the amount of misinformation that is perpetrated. Especially on eBay. In the last 10 years, we have seen mining claim values jump, dip and jump again. We have seen “experts” come and go. Promoters, looking to make a quick buck at the cost of the industry. This said, there have also been considerable fortunes made by customers that vetted their claims wisely.
Consider this a definitive guide on how to buy a mining claim from experts in the field. We have been working with mining claims all across the Western States for over a decade now. This review comes from unparalleled knowledge, and unlike other reviews, can all be verified with state and federal agencies. Nothing is subjective here.

If you are investing in a house, you get an agent and make sure everything is done right. So why would you invest in a claim without doing the same work. There are a lot of “weekend prospectors” who have very little knowledge, but are happy to tell you where to locate a mine. Look at the source. If they are pulling little gold from their claims, they probably aren't a good source of information. Let's start by answering a few basic questions about mining claims and then we will dig into some guidelines to follow before buying a mining claim from us or from anyone else who happens to be selling claims.

Are there any good mining claims left?

That's a good question that gets asked a lot. Most people assume mining claims were abandoned because they were all worked out. While it is true in some cases, there are still quite a few that have a lot of potential and were abandoned for any number of reasons. One common reason was that during WWII gold and silver mining was outlawed. Many never returned from the war to work their claims, others returned, but never made it back to their claims. Another reason many mines are abandoned is that individuals and mining companies will hold onto multiple claims with plans to someday work them. Mining claims come up for renewal every year on September 1st. This is a hard date and there is no grace period. Mining companies can become insolvent and then fail to renew their claims. Individuals can let their claims lapse for any number of reasons. There are good mines out there ready to be worked, it does take quite a bit of effort to find them though.

 Should I buy a placer or a lode claim?

This is one of first questions you should be asking yourself. There are benefits to both. Placer claims are ideal for those who enjoy working above ground. Placer gold is gold that has broken off and washed downstream from the lode. Miners back in the day would follow the placer gold upstream searching for the mother lode, or the source or all of the placer gold. Once they found the mother lode they would stake a claim and either sell it or start to work it. Placer mining usually requires less investment than lode mining.  Placer claims are typically cheaper, but not always. You usually get what you pay for. In general hard rock mining companies last longer than dredging companies. With a lode claim you are chasing the “’lode” the main deposit of minerals: gold, silver, copper, platinum and more. This is how small scale miners become rich miners. This is how small companies become massive. Open the right lode and its like cash pouring out. For more of the advantages and disadvantages of placer and lode claims see our in-depth article - placer vs lode claims.

 How do you determine what a mining claim is worth?

That is the million dollar question. Companies who specialize in sell claims to larger mining companies will spend thousands drilling and sampling before they know the potential and worth of their claims. With their high prices their claims are out of reach of the average small scale miners.  That's not how we operate. Our goal is to provide affordable claims for the small scale miner. We visit mining districts, where there is a history of successful mines. We take a look at the tailings and whenever possible we go underground to take photos of the ore inside the mines. This gives us a good indication of the type of ore the miners were pulling out and the quality of the claim.  If you take a look at our inventory of claims you will come to realize that not all of the claims we sell are created equal. We spend a lot of time researching mines and then only travel out to those that we think will have the most potential. Sometimes they aren't as good as they look on paper and we skip them. Sometimes these claims are absolutely phenomenal.

Our best advice to you is to wait and watch for a claim that is a good fit for you. If the claim has shafts or winzes you will need two people to work the claim. Adits are easier to work. Wood, water and shade on the claim are also very nice to have. A more in-depth article about what to consider when buying a claim can be found here -  The top 6 things to consider when buying a claim.

How do you determine who to buy a mine claim from?

This is about doing your homework. Anyone can file a claim and sell it to you. Just because you bought it on eBay doesn't mean it’s valid. Research your seller, determine their end goals. Use logic.
Shaft and Adit
A person that claims knowledge of mines and mining claims, but has never been inside a mine doesn't have much credibility. Beware of sellers who work with agencies that close mines and then try to sell you a site. You may lose your claim before you even get to it. And the “desert prospector”, who plays the “good ole boy” card. Selling his claim because he has made enough money off it? Really? Look around, these people are out there.
In the end, it comes down to knowledge and expertise. Find a good company, with a good reputation, and then find a site that you feel good about. Your seller should be able to answer all your questions and help you make your claim a sound investment.

What do I need to start mining my claim?

This depends on the level of mining you intend to execute. Most will want to start mining under Casual Use. This definition is different from state to state, but generally involves the use of no heavy machinery (over 10hp), less than 100 tons of material being removed from the site, and less than 5 acres of land disturbed. For more information on mining laws visit our mining law pages.

Our Goal at Gold Rush Expeditions

Our mission is twofold: find and sell the best mining claims throughout the West at affordable prices and fight to preserve mining history and the culture of mining in the West.  We prefer to sell mining claims to those who will actively work the claim and keep the mine open. If you've always dreamed of owning a gold mine, but didn't know where or how to start, please visit our learning center. We also invite you to visit our store and see our most recent mining claims.  We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.