Minerals & Geology - Gold Panning and Mineral Collecting
Gold panning is a common prospecting technique used to identify locations where gold dust and flakes have collected in stream sediments. Prospecting is the first step in locating a mineral deposit. Because this step usually entails only collecting hand samples and mapping, and no mechanized equipment, it usually does not require a Plan of Operation (POO).
Filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) will enable the Ranger District personnel to verify that the area you plan to operate in is open to mining (some lands are withdrawn from mineral entry). It is your responsibility to ensure that there is not already a mining claim on the land you intend to prospect on. This can be done by checking the Master Title Plat at your local BLM office or the records at your county courthouse. You do not need a claim to prospect, but you cannot conduct any mining activity on another’s claim without permission.
Mineral Specimen Collecting
This is the popular hobby of rockhounds. The collection of small specimens for personal use falls under the same category as prospecting and requires only a NOI be filed. If you intend to sell the specimens, you must talk to the district personnel to see if the level of activity requires a POO or a Special Use Permit (SUP). A SUP may be obtained for a small quantity of material for a nominal fee. If the deposit is of sufficient size and economic value to be mined using mechanized equipment, a POO must be filed.