Local miner’s claim revoked

Sheri Samson
Independent miner John Keady was told that his Last Chance Mine in the Mount Diablo Meridian was null and void.

When John Keady, independent miner and owner of Rock Chuck in Schurz, received a certified letter dated Jan. 27, from the United States Department of the Interior – Bureau of Land Management (BLM) out of Reno, he never dreamt it would be declaring his Last Chance Mine in the Mount Diablo Meridian of Mineral County “null and void”.

As Nevada mining procedures have always been, Keady had scoped out this mine on Sept. 3, 2016, then filed his paperwork in person on Nov. 7, 2016, to stake his claim within the 90-day allotted time at the BLM office. The acceptance naming him claimant, with an active serial number status arrived by mail Nov. 14, 2016 with no hitch, allowing him to continue his investment into his mining operation, retrieving unique agate specimens he was trademarking with specific names.

Perplexed by this timeline and a new January letter now stating, “Your unpatented lode mining claim was located on Sept. 3, 2016 on lands closed to mineral location and entry at the time of location,” he began to research what had happened.

Calling the BLM, representative Mike Myers instructed Keady that a petition of appeal could be filed and heard by an interior board who would review it for errors. Myers also stated that federal decisions could not be appealed and any financial hardship could be noted in the written appeal. Keady’s initial claim fee of $192 would be refunded after the land was properly restored. In asking why miners were not informed of this situation ahead of time, Myers stated that it was not required at the application process.

Still frustrated by this response, Keady says he researched further by re-reviewing the Fallon Airspace Extension and Modification booklet handed out at the Oct. 3-7, 2016, town hall meetings for the Fallon Training Complex and Navy Warfare “Scoping Meetings” held in Fallon; Lovelock; Reno; Austin; Eureka; Hawthorne and Gabbs. Since a nine page, legal document accompanied his January 2017 certified revocation letter, which summarized that this was done in relationship to a possible withdrawal of public land with the Department of the Navy application, Keady began questioning the back of that town hall brochure, which listed many future years of development in the Environmental Policy Act Process and Timeline.

In referring to “potential environmental impact for each identified alternative” he easily saw that these dates were still two years away from his claim’s acceptance date, which would’ve still allowed him time to properly mine and recover some of his current investment.

With such discrepancies, Keady says he reached out for assistance. In contacting Rudy Evenson, Deputy Chief of Communications from the Reno BLM office, Keady’s public situation was reviewed to reveal that the navy’s presentation failed to include a standing rule which states that the BLM must “segregate named land in a two-year time frame from mining/mineral use” which can then be drawn into a 20-year segregation with no claims accepted and a possible no use containment issued.

“Mining acts go back to 1872, but there was an updated 1976 federal law which involves the BLM segregating the land, if we are asked to change the land status, at two years prior. This unfortunately affected ten other current claimants and 53 mining claims in the same area, although older claims are currently grandfathered in for now without the same submission dates falling after the Sept. 2, 2016,” Evenson explained.

Evenson went on to admit a failure with the BLM clerks for not catching this prior to issuing Keady’s claim request, stating, “it appears our agency didn’t catch up with itself in time to reject his initial claim request.”

Evenson concurred that the term “environmental” would indicate to the average person as including minerals or mining rights, but it actually holds a separate place within the Department of Interior and with the BLM. “Segregating minerals and mining land prior to general use in any land change is not a new ruling,” he reiterated.

In asking about proper public notice regarding mining closures within this area, Evenson stated that a statement of the Sept. 2, 2016 printed version was posted on the Federal Registry, as a “Notice of Application for Withdrawal Expansion” with a response date of comments closing Dec. 1, 2016. (Sent as a supplementary attachment to this notification was the Navy’s publication of the town hall October meeting dates in public discussion for the Fallon Range Expansion project.) It was also sent out as a standard news reel, optional notification, which was only picked up by KOLO TV and KOH radio, with a brief announcement given, whereas the Fallon Training Expansion town hall meetings had been advertised within local newspapers and in public announcements to ensure a saturation of those potentially involved.

Keady admitted as to never visiting the Federal Registry site, adding that his mining access sustains his business as a sole source income, keeping him busy seven days a week.

“I would’ve never had a reason to go to the Federal Registry website. If I go by the Navy’s presentation, I had a good two years to mine at Last Chance before anything was closed down, and even at that the Fallon base had no guarantees it would pass through all the public’s hurdles. Even a couple of years could’ve given me time to complete some solid mining and get my investment back. The town hall meetings never addressed this BLM segregation land aspect, which seems unfair to those of us caught in the cross-hairs now. No matter what, these time lines do not sync up and I had an active mine approved by the BLM,” Keady shared.

Presently Keady is submitting his appeal paperwork, including a request of stay so he can extend time involved within his current investment and to offset a possible loss. He would also like to speak to other area miners caught within the same situation, within this mining district.

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  1. Fearfuloffeds says:

    I have never read a story about the BLM that didn’t put them in a negative light. Ever…

    • He can continue to mine with a claim.

      • I meant (without)

        • If the area is Closed to Mineral Location, then no claims can be filed, but he can still mine small scale. If the area is closed to Mineral Entry, then he may not even be allowed to use a gold pan (Exact regulations vary by location).

    • Kathleen Flanagan says:

      The BLM and EPA are nothing but a bunch of CROOKS. They think they can do what they want when they want with PUBLIC land.

  2. DICK LACKMOND says:

    i would love to see a single agency responsile for all public land . most times i must send a directed permit to all 3 of the land management groups with only a word or two different . it is getting rediculose. a common ordinary part time minor to scratch a hobby or small living with out so much riga- morw that it cost more than it is worth it . then they mke it dangerous dollor wise for us to even pick up a aluvial rock to study it to find the geological imprint so we can proceed to prospect . REICOULOUS !

  3. Dave Wilson says:

    My claim is in the spring valley range near rawhide mine and it is included in the withdrawal, but i registered the claim several years ago so i can keep working it until they close it off(2 years) is what they say. guess i was one of the lucky ones!!!!!

  4. It’s time to end the BLM because they are stealing way to much land and a lot of time it’s because of money they are being bribed with

    • Yes, let’s get rid of the BLM so that corporations and other countries can lease or buy the land and really rape it of the minerals. If anything, the land should go to the state where it’s located.

  5. William Murdoch says:

    Trump isn’t doing anything about this until we bring it to his attention and if enough of us do maybe we can get him on our side and give the land back to the states that was stolen by the federal government! To do that we need to organize, we need petitions, we need to have people contact friends and those friends contact their friends and when we’ve got enough signatures, present them to President Trump and see what happens. If I were in that situation , personally, I’d resist and keep on mining and if BLM representatives came out they’d be met with arms! I’m sure that would escalate but maybe that’s what needs to be done.. Any law enforcement official that restricts the constitutional rights of the people is a traitor! This organization cant just be Nevada, we will have to reach out and contact small miners in all the western states where the BLM is involved. I’ve got a busted hip, I’m not going to be doing much except sitting around a lot for the next few months – Send me your email address and I’ll start organizing – unless you have a better idea. trqsdlr@lentel.com