[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 145 (Friday, July 27, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 44155-44158]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18352]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

43 CFR Part 3830

[WO-620-1990-00-24 1A]
RIN 1004-AE27


Administration of Mining Claims and Sites

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Interim final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is issuing this rule to 
amend regulations on locating, recording, and maintaining mining claims 
or sites. In this rule, the BLM amends its regulations to respond to a 
recent law that changes the way the maintenance fee is calculated for 
unpatented placer mining claims. The law specifies that the holder of 
an unpatented placer mining claim must pay the initial and annual 
maintenance fee for each 20 acres or portion thereof contained in the 
claim; and reiterates that an initial maintenance fee payment is due at 
the time of recording the claim with the BLM and that the annual 
maintenance fee is due on or before September 1 of each year.

DATES: The interim final rule is effective July 27, 2012. If you wish 
to comment on the interim final rule, you should submit your comments 
by September 25, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Mail: Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240, 
Attention: 1004-AE27.
    Personal or messenger delivery: U.S. Department of the Interior, 
Bureau of Land Management, 20 M St. SE., Room 2134LM, Attention: 
Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003.
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions at this Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sonia Santillan at 202-912-7123, in 
the Solid Minerals Group as to program matters or the substance of the 
interim final rule or Ian Senio in the Division of Regulatory Affairs 
at 202-912-7440 for information relating to the rulemaking process 
generally. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-
877-8339, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to contact the above 
individuals.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Comment Procedures
II. Background
III. Discussion of Interim Final Rule
IV. Procedural Matters

I. Public Comment Procedures

    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of 
several methods:
    You may mail comments to Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, 
U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240, 
Attention: 1004-AE27;
    You may deliver comments to U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau 
of Land Management, 20 M St. SE., Room 2134LM, Attention: Regulatory 
Affairs, Washington, DC 20003; or
    You may access and comment on the interim final rule at the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal by following the instructions at that site (see 
ADDRESSES).
    Written comments on the interim final rule should be specific, 
should be confined to issues pertinent to the interim final rule, and 
should explain the reason for any recommended change. Where possible, 
comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the 
proposal which the commenter is addressing.
    The BLM need not consider, or include in the administrative record 
for the final rule, comments that the BLM receives after September 25, 
2012 or comments delivered to an address other than those listed above.

Public Availability of Comments

    Comments, including names, street addresses, and other contact 
information of respondents, will be available for public review at 
BLM's offices at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land 
Management, 20 M St. SE., Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003, during 
regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.), Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. They will also be available at the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions 
at this Web site.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying 
information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

II. Background

    The BLM has responsibility for the collection of fees for placer 
and lode mining claims and mill and tunnel sites on Federal lands. 
During fiscal year (FY) 2011, claimants recorded 58,775 new claims and 
sites with the BLM. In addition, the BLM processed maintenance fee 
payments for 375,958 claims and sites. The BLM deposits the collected 
fees into a special fund, and Congress appropriates money to the BLM 
from the fund to pay for the administration of the Mining Law program, 
which includes mining claim recording and fee collection, processing 
grandfathered patent applications, processing applications for plans of 
operations, inspecting operations, and enforcing the regulations.
    Since 1992, Congress has passed several laws requiring claimants to 
pay various fees when locating, recording, and maintaining mining 
claims or sites on Federal lands. This rule implements Section 430 of 
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (the FY2012 Appropriations 
Act), Public Law 112-74, 125 Stat. 786, enacted on December 23, 2011, 
which amended 30 U.S.C. 28f.

III. Discussion of Interim Final Rule

Why the Rule Is Being Published on an Interim Final Basis

    The BLM is adopting this interim final rule solely to implement the 
requirements of Section 430 of the FY2012 Appropriations Act, which 
amended 30 U.S.C. 28f. The BLM is not making any other changes to the 
regulations at 43 CFR part 3830.
    The Department of the Interior for good cause finds under 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(3)(B) that notice and public procedure for this rule are 
unnecessary and that this rule may properly take effect upon 
publication. The reasons are as follows:
     This rule merely codifies statutorily imposed procedural 
changes;

[[Page 44156]]

     The law precludes the BLM from exercising discretion as to 
the level of fees or when they are due;
     Publishing the regulations in final form gives the public 
notification of the change so that placer mining claim holders can 
correctly calculate the amount of the maintenance fee based on the 
acreage in their existing placer mining claims or when they locate new 
placer mining claims; and
     Publishing the regulations in final form gives time to 
placer mining claim holders whose claims are greater than 20 acres to 
reduce the size of their claims before September 1, 2012, if they do 
not wish to pay the adjusted fees.
    The Department also determines that the exceptions under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d) apply and there is good cause to place the rule into effect on 
the date of publication. First, the matters addressed in the rule are 
statutorily required. Second, the payments this rule affects are 
payable to the BLM at the time of initial recording and annually 
thereafter. Because claims and sites are continuously being recorded 
with the BLM, this interim final rule serves as notification to all 
placer mining claim holders that they must begin paying the newly 
established fees upon recordation.

How the Rule Operates

    Under previous law, initial and annual maintenance fee payments 
were the same amount for all placer claims, whether the placer mining 
claim was 20 acres or 160 acres (the maximum size allowed). This 
interim final rule specifies that for placer mining claims greater than 
20 acres in size, the claimant must pay an additional fee for each 20 
acres or portion thereof.
    The fees under this rule are due for all existing placer mining 
claims, starting with the maintenance fee payment due on or before 
September 1, 2012, for the 2013 assessment year. For new placer mining 
claims, the rule is effective immediately and the fees under this rule 
are due when the placer claim is first recorded with the BLM as well as 
annually thereafter on or before September 1. For example, under this 
regulation, a claimant who records a new 66-acre placer mining claim 
must pay an initial maintenance fee of $560 ($140 for each of the first 
three 20-acre portions of the claim, plus $140 for the additional 6-
acre portion thereof), as well as the $34 location fee (see 43 CFR 
3830.21(a)(2)), and $15 processing fee (see 43 CFR 3000.12), for a 
total of $609. Each year, the annual maintenance fee for this 
hypothetical 66-acre placer claim would be $560.

IV. Procedural Matters

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866 and Executive 
Order 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. This 
interim final rule will not meet any of Executive Order 12866 criteria 
for significance as follows:
    (a) This rule will not have an effect of $100 million or more on 
the economy. It will not adversely affect in a material way the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or 
communities. The economic analysis accompanying this rule indicates 
that the increase in fees for placer mining claims in excess of 20 
acres will be approximately $8 million per year. The BLM makes this 
estimate on the basis of approximately 35,000 placer mining claims for 
which claimants paid maintenance fees at the end of FY 2011. Of these, 
approximately 21,000 placer mining claims exceeded 20 acres.
    (b) This rule will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise 
interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. This rule 
only impacts the BLM's regulatory program by implementing a law that 
gives the BLM no discretion as to how to apply new fees for placer 
mining claims and will not affect actions taken or planned by another 
agency.
    (c) This rule does not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, 
grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights or obligations of 
their recipients.
    (d) This rule does not raise novel legal or policy issues. The rule 
simply implements a statute requiring fees for placer mining claims.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system 
to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, 
most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, 
and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available 
science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public 
participation and an open exchange of ideas. This interim final rule 
has been developed in a manner consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The BLM certifies that this interim final rule will not have a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities 
as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). 
The rule will not have an impact because the fees paid by small 
entities will not change sufficiently to cause a significant economic 
impact. Using Internal Revenue Service data from 2008, the BLM 
estimates that the average placer claimant that will be affected by 
this rulemaking will pay an extra $800 annually. This amount equals 
about one per cent of a claimant's average annual income in 2008, which 
was $77,311. Moreover, this rule does not change the small miner 
maintenance fee waiver program, which further reduces any potential 
impact on small miners. A final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not 
required, and a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required.
    For the purposes of this section, a ``small entity'' is an 
individual, limited partnership, or small company, at ``arm's length'' 
from the control of any parent companies, with fewer than 500 employees 
or less than $5 million in revenue. This definition is consistent with 
Small Business Administration regulations at 13 CFR 121.201. Please see 
the economic analysis at the address in the ADDRESSES section of this 
rule for additional information.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This interim final rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
     This rule does not have an annual effect on the economy of 
$100 million or more. The maintenance fee for placer mining claims is 
changing and will now be calculated based on the acreage of the claim. 
However, even with the additional maintenance fees collected for placer 
mining claims containing more than 20 acres, the annual effect on the 
economy will not meet or exceed $100 million. The total maintenance fee 
collected for placer mining claims that exceed 20 acres is being 
adjusted so that placer mining claims containing more acreage will bear 
a proportional amount of the administrative costs associated with the 
administration of all claims and sites;
     This rule does not cause a major increase in costs or 
prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local 
government

[[Page 44157]]

agencies, or geographic regions. The changes implemented by this rule 
are likely to leave all other economic aspects of the BLM Mining Law 
program unaffected; and
     This rule does not have significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the 
ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based 
enterprises.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), the BLM finds that:
     This interim final rule does not ``significantly or 
uniquely'' affect small governments and does not impact small 
government entities in any regard. A Small Government Agency Plan is 
unnecessary.
     This rule does not produce a Federal mandate of $100 
million or greater in any year.
    The rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The changes in this rule would not 
require anything of any non-Federal governmental entity.

Executive Order 12630, Takings

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the BLM finds that the 
rule does not have takings implications. A takings implication 
assessment is not required. This rule does not substantially change BLM 
policy. Nothing in this rule constitutes a taking.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    In accordance with Executive Order 12612, the BLM finds that this 
interim final rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A 
Federalism assessment is not required. This rule does not change the 
role of or responsibilities among Federal, State, and local 
governmental entities, nor does it relate to the structure and role of 
states or have direct, substantive, or significant effects on states.

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 
Governments

    In accordance with Executive Order 13175, the BLM finds that this 
interim final rule does not include policies that have tribal 
implications. Because this rule does not make significant substantive 
changes in the regulations and does not specifically involve Indian 
reservation lands (which are closed to the operation of the Mining 
Law), the BLM finds that the rule will have no implications for 
Indians, Indian tribes, and tribal governments.

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the BLM finds that this 
interim final rule does not unduly burden the judicial system, and 
therefore meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the 
Order. The BLM consulted with the Department of the Interior's Office 
of the Solicitor throughout the drafting process.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The BLM has determined this interim final rule does not contain any 
new information collection requirements that the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) must approve under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). The OMB has approved the information 
collection requirements in the regulations under OMB control number 
1004-0114 that pertain to the payment of mining claim recordation and 
maintenance fees.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    This interim final rule does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. A 
detailed statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA) is not required because this rule is administrative in nature 
and is covered by a categorical exclusion. This rule will result in no 
new surface disturbing activities and therefore will have no effect on 
ecological or cultural resources. In promulgating this rule, the 
government is conducting routine and continuing government business of 
an administrative nature having limited context and intensity. 
Therefore, it is categorically excluded from environmental review under 
section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, pursuant to 43 CFR 46.205. The rule does not 
meet any of the extraordinary circumstances criteria for categorical 
exclusions listed at 43 CFR 46.215. Under Council on Environmental 
Quality regulations (40 CFR 1508.4) and the environmental policies and 
procedures of the Department, the term ``categorical exclusion'' means 
a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a 
significant effect on the human environment and which have been found 
to have no such effect on procedures adopted by a Federal agency and 
for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an 
environmental impact statement is required.

Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

    This interim final rule is not a significant energy action. It will 
not have an adverse effect on energy supplies. The rule pertains 
primarily to non-energy minerals, and does not impose requirements that 
are not statutory or impose new requirements.

Clarity of This Regulation

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations 
that are simple and easy to understand. We invite your comments on how 
to make this interim final rule easier to understand, including answers 
to questions such as the following:
    1. Are the requirements in the regulations clearly stated?
    2. Do the regulations contain technical language or jargon that 
interferes with their clarity?
    3. Does the format of the regulations (grouping and order of 
sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce their 
clarity?
    4. Would the regulations be easier to understand if they were 
divided into more (but shorter) sections?
    5. Is the description of the regulations in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this preamble helpful in understanding the 
proposed regulations? How could this description be more helpful in 
making the regulations easier to understand?
    Please send any comments you have on the clarity of the regulations 
to the address as specified in the ADDRESSES section.

Author

    The principal author of this interim final rule is Sonia Santillan 
in the Solid Minerals Group assisted by the Division of Regulatory 
Affairs, Washington Office, BLM.

List of Subjects in 43 CFR Part 3830

    Mineral royalties; Mines; Public lands--mineral resources; 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble and under the authorities 
stated below, the BLM amends 43 CFR part 3830 as follows:

PART 3830--LOCATING, RECORDING, AND MAINTAINING MINING CLAIMS OR 
SITES; GENERAL PROVISIONS

0
1. Revise the authority citation for part 3830 to read as follows:

    Authority:  18 U.S.C 1001, 3571; 30 U.S.C. 22, 28, 28k, 242, 
611; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 43

[[Page 44158]]

U.S.C. 2, 1201, 1212, 1457, 1474, 1740, 1744; 115 Stat. 414; Pub. L. 
112-74, 125 Stat. 786.

Subpart D--BLM Service Charge and Fee Requirements

0
2. Amend Sec.  3830.21 by revising paragraphs (a) and (d) of the table 
to read as follows:


Sec.  3830.21  What are the different types of service charges and 
fees?

* * * * *

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                                        Amount due per mining claim
             Transaction                          or site                          Waiver available
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(a) Recording a mining claim or site   A total sum which includes:    No.
 location (part 3833).                 (1) The processing fee for
                                        notices of location found in
                                        the fee schedule in Sec.
                                        3000.12 of this chapter;.
                                       (2) A one-time $34 location
                                        fee; and
                                       (3)(i) For lode claims, mill
                                        sites and tunnel sites, an
                                        initial $140 maintenance
                                        fee; or
                                       (ii) For placer claims, an
                                        initial $140 maintenance fee
                                        for each 20 acres of the
                                        placer claim or portion
                                        thereof.
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
(d) Maintaining a mining claim or      (1) For lode claims, mill      Yes. See part 3835.
 site for one assessment year (part     sites and tunnel sites, an
 3834).                                 annual maintenance fee of
                                        $140 must be paid on or
                                        before September 1 each
                                        year.
                                       (2) For placer claims, a $140
                                        annual maintenance fee for
                                        each 20 acres of the placer
                                        claim or portion thereof
                                        must be paid on or before
                                        September 1 each year.
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
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Marcilynn A. Burke,
Acting Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management.
[FR Doc. 2012-18352 Filed 7-26-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-84-P