SIDEBAR 1–3 Categories of Mining Activities on BLM Lands

Casual Use

Mining activities that only negligibly disturb federal lands and resources. Casual use does not include the use of mechanized earth moving equipment or explosives or the use of motorized equipment in areas closed to off-road vehicles. Under casual use, operators do not have to notify BLM, and operations do not need to be approved. But operations are subject to monitoring by BLM to ensure that federal lands do not undergo unnecessary or undue degradation. Casual use operations must be reclaimed.

Notice-level Operation

A mining or exploration operation involving more than casual use but requiring that the operator submit only a notice rather than a plan of operations. A notice is the notification a mining operator must submit to BLM of the intention to begin an operation that will disturb 5 acres or less in a year in a mining claim or project area. The intent of a notice is to permit operations with limited geographic disturbance to begin after a quick review for potential resource conflicts and to eliminate the need for federal action. A notice requires no special forms, but an operator must submit specific information. BLM must complete its review of the notice within 15 calender days of its receipt unless more information is required to determine whether the operation would cause unnecessary or undue degradation.

Plan of Operations

A plan for mining exploration and development that an operation must submit to BLM for approval when more than 5 acres a year will be disturbed or when an operator plans to work in an area of critical environmental concern or a wilderness area. A plan of operations must document in detail all actions that the operator plans to take from exploration through reclamation.

Source: Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Surface ManagementRegulations for Locatable Minerals Operations, U.S. Department ofthe Interior, BLM, February, 1999, p. G-4, G-16, G-18.

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