S & K provides legal advice and representation to mineral right claimants under the General Mining Law. From small to large claims, S & K has provided many mining projects with the development of Plans of Operation to be submitted for approval to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States Forest Service (USFS), and other state regulatory agencies. Furthermore, S & K is experienced in responding to Validity Examinations which are needed for the determination of valid existing rights and also is experienced in representing mining claimants in contest proceedings initiated by BLM or USFS.
Establishment of Claims:
S & K also has particular experience pertaining to the proving and establishment of valid, existing mining rights, i.e. areas of federal land withdrawn from mineral entry. In fact, the first appeal of a decision by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) in the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was prosecuted by S & K. This case resulted in the reversal of IBLA’s decision regarding its interpretation of the "prudent man" standard for establishing valid mining claims under federal law in regard to a gold mining claim. A copy of the decision of this case can be found by clicking this link.
Precious and Base Metals:
S & K's experience extends to mining claims of precious metals, base metals and industrial minerals. Currently, we are challenging the authority of the IBLA to rule on the validity of mining claims where there is no withdrawal of land from mineral entry or patent involved. As of January 2014, this challenge is currently pending in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia. Click here to see S & K’s argument.
S & K has litigated cases against the federal government and the state involving the regulation of mining, including asserting that mining regulation caused a taking of the mineral interests, requiring payment of just compensation under the Fifth Amendment.
The Court of Federal Claims agreed with S & K that the decision to settle a mineral contest proceeding challenging whether there was discovery of a valuable mineral deposit under the General Mining law was equivalent to a recognition of property rights in a mining claim for purposes of a temporary taking claim. See for example, Reoforce, Inc. v. United States. We have also represented mining associations in challenging industry-wide regulatory changes. In particular, Dick Stephens is an activley engaged member of the Mining Law Committee of the Northwest Mining Association which frequently comments on mining regulation.
Mining Related Property Disputes:
In addition to the regulatory side of the mining and minerals industry, we have litigated to quiet title to fractional interests in mineral properties and the allocation of shares of profits among jointly held mineral interests.