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THE MINING LAW.
The following is the text of the proposed new mining law.* It embodies much that I have advocated in former reports, and I think it will be approved by the large body of practical miners in the United States, who, whatever criticisms they may make upon particular provisions, must agree in commending the tone which mining legislation has assumed, and the character of the protection offered to their property.
This law aims to offer means for a fair adjustment of thousands of claims upon all kinds of mining property, and lying between men of every class and nationality. Probably the most eager curiosity in reading it for the first time will be directed, not to the sections which prescribe how mines may hereafter be taken up, but to the inquiry, how the law affects present interests, and the disputed points of the past. The first section will be distasteful to some. None but citizens, and those persons who declare their intention to become such, can have any ownership in the virgin mines of the public domain, except by purchase of United States patents from citizens. If rumor is true, this will be a blow to some of the Mormon miners who have thought to air their supposed independence of our Government by refusing to become citizens. This provision, which is of course most natural and proper, is continued from the former law, where it has already made trouble for those who were anxious to reap without being willing to sow. Probably a large proportion of the Chinese will also be debarred from ownership, as they are not citizens. But this provision does not prevent any one who is willing to become a citizen, from taking up mines. If I read the civilrights bill correctly, any person in the world may become a citizen of the United States, all sectional or State laws to the contrary notwith'standing.
The section giving absolute title to a certain surface and all veins "topping" within vertical lines drawn from the boundaries of that surface-claim, is necessary to prevent special litigation.
On the subject of tunnels the law follows a course contrary to the views I have held, and I still feel confidence enough in the strength of my position to believe that this section will be annulled by the practice of miners and eventually by Congress. Let us take the case of a hill in which a very promising mine is discovered. Instantly some sharper claps down a tunnel-claim, and by that act he invalidates or threatens to invalidate every discovery made on that hill within 3,000 feet of his location. The prohibition to work the hill continues six months at least, and longer if he begins work. I call it prohibition, because it is such if the law is effective. But I look upon this section with less alarm than I otherwise should feel, because I know that it will be very limited in its action. Very few of the innumerable tunnel-claims are ever prosecuted 10 feet into the hill. Others, and perhaps most of them, even if carried on, would come to nothing. Take the Emma Hill in Little Cottonwood. The tunnels there must run about parallel to the veins, and a tunnel that would intersect more than one would have to be very long.
*Since passed and signed by the President. The text here given is that of the final form of the law.
But the Emma Hill offers an example showing how hurtful this section of the law could be if it were effective. The mines in Little Cottonwood depend for their future upon pockets, bulges, or other enlargements of veins, and these enlargements show no sign at the surface. A tunnel might strike one of these and draw out the whole wealth of a mine, while the true owners would be working patiently down, unable to immediately prove that their narrow seam had any connection with the immense mass which was making the tunnel-owners rich. The Emma itself could have been worked for two years through a tunnel before the real owners found their way into the bonanza.
I cannot agree with the provision in section 5 to allow owners who have abandoned a mine to resume work without relocation. Something is needed to prevent a man whose whole time is spent in Utah from holding claims in California, Oregon, Montana, and all the other Territories. If the recorders cannot make yearly inspection the owners should be required to swear each year to having performed the work required. I am sorry to see, too, that there is no provision for the use of timber, and but a very incomplete settlement of the important questions of waterpower and drainage.
Nevertheless it is certain that the present law is a great advance on anything we have had. Our legislators have no more puzzling task than to adjust the claims of miners. If their measures sometimes bear hardly on those who cherish vague but golden dreams of wealth, it must be remembered that their object is not to deny riches to any, but by early prescription of legal means to prevent conflict. The law, indeed, is made in the interest of the disputing claimant as much as in that of the actual holder, for in exact terms he finds clearly indicated what he can or cannot do; and if he is wise and honest he may save himself expense. The following is the text of the new mining law:
Be it enacted, &c., That all valuable mineral deposits in lands belong. ing to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, are hereby declared to be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they are found to occupation and purchase, by the citizens of the United States and those who have declared their intention to become such, under regulations prescribed by law, and according to the local .customs or rules of miners, in the several mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States.
SEC. 2. That mining claims upon veins or lodes of quartz or other rock in place bearing gold, silver, cinnabar, lead, tin, copper, or other valuable deposits, heretofore located, shall be governed as to length along the vein or lode by the customs, regulations, and laws in force at the date of their location. A mining claim located after the passage of this act, whether located by one or more persons, may equal, but shall not exceed, fifteen hundred feet in length along the vein or lode; but no location of a mining claim shall be made until the discovery of the vein or lode within the limits of the claim located. No claim shall extend more than three hundred feet on each side of the middle of the vein at the surface, nor shall any claim be limited by any mining regu lation to less than twenty-five feet on each side of the middle of the vein at the surface, except where adverse rights existing at the passage of this act shall render such limitation necessary. The end lines of each claim shall be parallel to each other.
SEC. 3. That the locators of all mining locations heretofore made, or which shall hereafter be made, on any mineral vein, lode, or ledge, situated on the public domain, their heirs and assigns, where no adverse
claim exists at the passage of this act, so long as they comply with the laws of the United States, and with State, territorial, and local regulations not in conflict with said laws of the United States governing their possessory title, shall have the exclusive right of possession and enjoyment of all the surface included within the lines of their locations, and of all veins, lodes, and ledges throughout their entire depth, the top or apex of which lies inside of such surface lines extended downward vertically, although such veins, lodes, or ledges may so far depart from a perpendicular in their course downward as to extend outside the vertical side lines of said surface locations: Provided, That their right of possession to such outside parts of said veins or ledges shall be confined to such portions thereof as lie between vertical planes drawn downward as aforesaid, through the end lines of their locations, so continued in their own direction that such planes will intersect such exterior parts of said veins or ledges: And provided further, That nothing in this section shall authorize the locator or possessor of a vein or lode which extends in its downward course beyond the vertical lines of his claim to enter upon the surface of a claim owned or possessed by another.
SEC. 4. That where a tunnel is run for the development of a vein or lode or for the discovery of mines, the owners of such tunnel shall have the right of possession of all veins or lodes within three thousand feet from the face of such tunnel on the line thereof, not previously known to exist, discovered in such tunnel, to the same extent as if discovered from the surface; and locations on the line of such tunnel of veins or lodes not appearing on the surface, made by other parties after the commencement of the tunnel, and while the same is being prosecuted with reasonable diligence, shall be invalid; but failure to prosecute the work on the tunnel for six months shall be considered as an abandonment of the right to all undiscovered veins on the line of the said tunnel.
SEC. 5. That the miners of each mining district may make rules and regulations not in conflict with the laws of the United States, or with the laws of the State or Territory in which the district is situated, governing the location, manner of recording, amount of work necessary to hold possession of a mining claim, subject to the following requirements: the location must be distinctly marked on the ground, so that its boundaries can be readily traced. All records of mining claims hereafter made. shall contain the name or names of the locators, the date of the location, and such a description of the claim or claims located by reference to some natural object or permanent monument as will identify the claim. On each claim located after the passage of this act, and until a patent shall have been issued therefor, not less than one hundred dollars' worth of labor shall be performed or improvements made during each year. On all claims located prior to the passage of this act ten dollars' worth of labor shall be performed or improvements made for each one hun dred feet in length along the vein until a patent shall have been issued therefor; but where such claims are held in common such expenditure may be made upon any one claim; and upon a failure to comply with these conditions, the claim or mine upon which such failure occurred shall be open to relocation in the same manner as if no location of the same had ever been made: Provided, That the original locators, their heirs, assigns, or legal representatives, have not resumed work upon the claim after such failure and before such location. Upon the failure of any one of several co-owners to contribute his proportion of the expendi tures required by this act, the co-owners who have performed the labor or made the improvements may, at the expiration of the year, give such delinquent co-owner personal notice in writing, or notice by publication
in the newspaper published nearest the claim, for at least once a week for ninety days, and if at the expiration of ninety days after such notice in writing or by publication such delinquent should fail or refuse to contribute his proportion to comply with this act, his interest in the claim shall become the property of his co-owners who have made the required expenditure.
SEC. 6. That a patent for any land claimed and located for valuable deposits may be obtained in the following manner: any person, association, or corporation authorized to locate a claim under this act, hav ing claimed and located a piece of land for such purposes, who has, or have, complied with the terms of this act, may file in the proper landoffice an application for a patent, under oath, showing such compliance, together with a plat and field-notes of the claim or claims in common, made by or under the direction of the United States surveyor-general, showing accurately the boundaries of the claim or claims, which shall be distinctly marked by monuments on the ground, and shall post a copy of such plat, together with a notice of such application for a patent, in a conspicuous place on the land embraced in such plat previous to the filing of the application for a patent, and shall file an affidavit of at least two persons that such notice has been duly posted as aforesaid, and shall file a copy of said notice in such land-office, and shall thereupon be entitled to a patent for said land, in the manner following: the register of the land-office, upon the filing of such application, plat, fieldnotes, notices, and affidavits, shall publish a notice that such application has been made, for the period of sixty days, in a newspaper to be by him designated as published nearest to said claim; and he shall also post such notice in his office for the same period. The claimant at the time of filing this application, or at any time thereafter, within the sixty days of publication, shall file with the register a certificate of the United States surveyor-general that $500 worth of labor has been expended or improvements made upon the claim by himself or grantors, that the plat is correct, with such further description by such reference to natural objects or permanent monuments as shall identify the claim, and furnish an accurate description, to be incorporated in the patent. At the expiration of the sixty days of publication the claimant shall file his affidavit that the plat and notice have been posted in a conspicuous place on the claim during said period of publication. If no adverse claim shall have been filed with the register and the receiver of the proper land-office at the expiration of the sixty days of publication, it shall be assumed that the applicant is entitled to the patent, upon the payment to the proper officer of five dollars per acre, and that no adverse claims exist; and thereafter no objection from third parties to the issuance of a patent shall be heard, except it be shown that the applicant failed to comply with this act.
SEC. 7. That where an adverse claim shall be filed during the period of publication, it shall be upon oath of the person or persons making the same, and shall show the nature, boundaries, and extent of such adverse claim, and all proceedings, except the publication of notice and making and filing of the affidavit thereof, shall be stayed until the controversy shall have been settled or decided by a court of competent jurisdiction, or the adverse claim waived. It shall be the duty of the adverse claimant, within thirty days after filing his claim, to commence proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction, to determine the question of the right of possession, and prosecute the same with reasonable diligence to final judgment; and a failure so to do shall be a waiver of his adverse claim. After such judgment shall have been rendered, the party entitled
to the possession of the claim, or any portion thereof, may, without giving further notice, file a certified copy of the judgment-roll with the register of the land-office, together with the certificate of the surveyorgeneral that the requisite amount of labor has been expended, or improvements made thereon, and the description required in other cases, and shall pay to the receiver five dollars per acre for his claim, together with the proper fees, whereupon the whole proceedings and the judg ment-roll shall be certified by the register to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and a patent shall issue thereon for the claim, or such portion thereof as the applicant shall appear, from the decision of the court, to rightfully possess. If it shall appear from the decision of the court that several parties are entitled to separate and different portions of the claim, each party may pay for his portion of the claim, with the proper fees, and file the certificate and description by the surveyorgeneral, whereupon the register shall certify the proceedings and judg ment-roll to the Commissioner of the General Land-Office, as in the preceding case, and patents shall issue to the several parties according to their respective rights. Proof of citizenship under this act, or the acts of July 26, 1866, and July 9, 1870, in the case of an individual, may consist of his own affidavit thereof, and in case of an association of persons unincorporated, of the affidavit of their authorized agent, made on his own knowledge or upon information and belief, and in case of a corporation organized under the laws of the United States, or of any State or Territory of the United States, by the filing of a certified copy of their charter or certificate of incorporation; and nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the alienation of the title conveyed by a patent for a mining claim to any person whatever.
SEC. S. That the description of vein or lode claims, upon surveyed lands, shall designate the location of the claim with reference to the lines of the public surveys, but need not conform therewith; but where a patent shall be issued as aforesaid for claims upon unsurveyed lands, the surveyor-general, in extending the surveys, shall adjust the same to the boundaries of such patented claim, according to the plat or description thereof, but so as in no case to interfere with or change the location of any such patented claim.
SEC. 9. That sections one, two, three, four, and six of an act entitled "An act granting the right of way to ditch and canal owners over the public lands, and for other purposes," approved July 26, 1866, are hereby repealed, but such repeal shall not affect existing rights. Applications for patents for mining-claims now pending may be prosecuted to a final decision in the General Land-Office; but in such cases, where adverse rights are not affected thereby, patents may issue in pursuance of the provisions of this act; and all patents for mining-claims heretofore issued ' under the act of July 26, 1866, shall convey all the rights and privileges conferred by this act where no adverse rights exist at the time of the passage of this act.
SEC. 10. That the act entitled "An act to amend an act granting the right of way to ditch and canal owners over the public lands, and for other purposes," approved July 9, 1870, shall be and remain in full force, except as to the proceedings to obtain a patent, which shall be similar to the proceedings prescribed by sections six and seven of this act for obtaining patents to vein or lode claims; but where said placer-· claims shall be upon surveyed lands, and conform to legal subdivisions, no further survey or plat shall be required. And all placer-mining claims hereafter located shall conform as near as practicable with the United States system of public-land surveys and the rectangular subdivisions