Experience and Expertise in Mining Law
SOLVING COMPLEX MINING LAW ISSUES IN IDAHO, MONTANA, WYOMING AND NORTH DAKOTA
Joe Frick is an experienced mining law attorney. He has been involved in complex matters such as contested eminent domain proceedings condemning adjacent unpatented mining claims, the acquisition of mining facilities, the establishment of new unpatented mining claims, and numerous mining title opinions.
During law school, Joe mainly focused his studies on natural resources and earned a Natural Resources certificate with distinction. After Joe graduated, he started practicing at the law firm Crowley Fleck in Billings, MT where he assisted mining companies and individuals with various mining issues in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Joe has also served as an adjunct professor at Washburn University School of Law for its Title Examination Course, served as a guest lecturer for the University of Montana School of Law, and taught continuing legal education courses on the subject of Mining Law.
In order to locate an unpatented mining claim on federal land, you must comply with the General Mining Law of 1872 and state statutes. Each state has its own provisions that dictate how a claim must be located, but essentially the locator must mark the boundaries of the mining claim so that the boundaries are readily identifiable. This is generally done by placing a substantial monument at the four corners of the claim. Although this sounds easy, the claim must be marked in a specific way in each state. For example, in Idaho, the monument or post on each corner must be marked with the name of the claim, the position or number of the corner or angle and the direction of the boundary lines. In Montana, there are also certain requirement such as placing a notice of location at the point of discovery. If that is not done, the claim may be invalid. Therefore, although locating a mining claim sounds simple enough on its face, there are subtleties to the mining law that must be taken in to account.
Claim disputes are a frequent cause of mining litigation. Individuals or companies may be disputing the validity of another’s claim or their priority as to a specific portion of a claim. In order to determine which claim is entitled to priority involves consideration of multiple factors including location date, the manner of location, the type of claim located, etc. However, each factor must be analyzed carefully and involves intense fact investigation. As discussed above, one issue that could arise is that the prior locator did not place a notice at the point of discovery.
MINING TITLE OPINIONS
In most situations, it is essential to obtain a mining title opinion to determine the title to a mining claim or fee simple property. Title to the property should be determined whether you are locating a new claim, trying to obtain mining leases for a specific parcel of land, or determining who is entitled to royalties after a mine has begun to produce. Who owns the mineral rights to a specific parcel can be very complex. This is due to the nature of mineral rights, when the mining claim was located, whether mineral rights were severed from the surface rights in the past, whether title to the property was properly conveyed or passed down properly through probate, etc. Different rules also apply whether the parcel is on state, federal or private land. Joe Frick has extensive experience in identifying title issues and formulating a plan to cure any title defect that may exist.
Mining leases may be obtained from the state government, federal government, or individuals who hold the mineral rights underlying a tract of land. Other issues may be involved such as negotiating agreements with the surface owner, obtaining permits, and gaining approval of a plan of operations.
MINING LEASE DISPUTES
Once a mining lease has been obtained, disputes typically arise between the lessee and lessor regarding royalty payments, scope of the lease, surface use, term of the lease, and any other alleged breach of the lease. These issues involve careful examination of the lease, state law, and federal law.
Mining law is one of Joe Frick Law, PLLC’s main areas of practice. The above issues are only a few areas that touch on the issue of mining law. Joe Frick Law, PLLC also represents individuals and mining companies for the following areas:
- Representation before the Bureau of Land Management
- Representation before the Interior Board of Land Appeals
- Eminent domain for mining purposes
- Public Land Law
- Mining Litigation
CONTACT JOE FRICK LAW, PLLC
From our offices in Idaho, we have the capability of serving your mining law needs throughout Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Kansas. To schedule a consultation with an experienced mining law lawyer, contact us today.