What is being offered for sale
The properties being offered for sale are old "Patented Mining Claims". In the mid to late 1800’s as Americans moved west, there were two fundamental ways for them to become owners of property then held only by the American Government – (a) Homesteading and (b) Mining Claims.
Most of us have heard and have some understanding of Homesteading. Basically, if you lived and worked on the land for a certain period of time, then so many acres would eventually be given to you in your name. However, this granting of land to the Homesteader sometimes only included the surface. The minerals below the surface were often retained by the Federal Government and later leased or granted to mining or oil and gas companies.
The second way for Americans to gain ownership of property was staking a Mining Claim. Similar to Homesteading, where the person seeking the property had to perform certain work or duties to farm the land - in the case of a Mining Claim, the individual had to invest certain time and money to explore for minerals. Upon proving that the Mining Claim in fact contained valuable minerals, a mining claimant became entitled to a Patent, under which the government conveyed full ownership of the claim. The good news with Mining Claims is that the individual was granted not just the surface, but also the minerals under the ground. Most Mining Claims were never Patented.
As part of the patenting process, the federal government surveyed the Mining Claim to establish its boundaries and prepared a “Mineral Survey Plat,” reflecting those boundaries. The Plat would detail the claim: its mineral survey number, its location, boundaries with other claims, size in acres and the date/signature of the US Surveyor General. When the Patent for a Mining Claim was issued, it would refer to the Plat for the official legal description for the claim. Most of the Patented Mining Claims offered for sale were issued and patented in the late 1800’s. For example, the Patented Mining Claim called the “Luckey John Lode” was first located on February 6, 1900. The official “Plat” for Mineral Survey No. 4339 was signed on April 11, 1901 and granted the Luckey John Lode to Mrs. M. A. Aagon.
What is being offered for sale is that very same “Luckey John” Patented Mining Claim and many others like it. Each Patented Mining Claim is officially of record in the County Recorder’s Office of Juab County and Utah County, Utah. A Title Insurance Policy will accompany each Patented Mining Claim offered for sale. For example, those Patented Mining Claims located in Juab County will have a Title Insurance Policy issued by Juab County Title and insured by North American Title Company.
The surface ownership rights will be conveyed to the buyer using a Quit Claim Deed. No mineral or water rights are being sold with these properties. The buyer should understand that the principal value of these Patented Mining Claims is for their historical and recreational value.
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Eureka, Utah - Click to see larger view
History of the Area
The Patented Mining Claims being offered for sale are located in and around the Tintic Mining District near Eureka, Utah. The Tintic Mining District was officially organized on December 13, 1869. The district was named in honor of the Ute Indian Chief Tintic who lived in the area with his tribe. By 1899, the Tintic District was the leading mining center in Utah; as well as one of the top producers in the entire United States. To support this mining and exploring activity, numerous towns sprang up and grew. The cities of Mammoth and Silver City were two such towns.
The Patented Mining claims offered for sale have had no concentrated mining or mineral processing activity conducted on them. However, the process of exploration in the area did result in numerous shafts and holes being dug. Some of the claims being offered have or may have such shafts or holes on them. We have not compiled a detailed location of every hole or shaft. Many of the existing and old maps of the area may show such features.
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Mining activity, even just the digging of shafts and holes, does bring up the issue of environmental concerns. The sellers have commissioned and had completed a “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment” completed on the Patented Mining Claims being offered for sale. The summary and table of contents of this environmental assessment is available by fax or mail. The complete copy of this detailed report is approximately three inches thick and contains over 100 pages. Any prospective buyer may purchase the complete copy for $175.00 per copy. In summary, the report states “no Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) currently exist on the Property.” [Include definition of “RECs” from report] In the preparation of the report, the investigators inspected the property, checked with all relevant state and federal agencies concerning environmental issues, as well as nine [confirm] databases containing all known environmental sites, hazards, etc.
The bad news – the buyer should understand that over the last 130 years the general area has had extensive mining activities. The City of Eureka has had and still has active clean-up operations ongoing to undo past haphazard treatment of debris from active smelting and refining activities inside the city limits. There is the Silver City Heap Leach facility consisting of 15 acres of spent ore stacked to an average depth of 100 feet in the vicinity of the Patented Mining Claims being sold. Recovery of the precious metals from the ore was terminated in 1995. The heap leach was reclaimed in December 2000. This project has received much positive attention as a potential model for other projects of its kind. In June, 2001 a letter from the State of Utah, Department of Natural Resources, after a site inspection authorized the release of much of the bond money held to insure completion of this reclamation. The complete report details all of this with copies of letters and documents.
The good news and bottom line is, although it is recognized that the history of the entire Tintic Mining District is mining and mineral processing, the actual existing and identified environmental problems are primarily located in a few specific sites where the ore in the rocks was condensed into metal called smelting. Aside from a few holes and/or shafts dug for exploration, there have been no smelting operations on the specific Patented Mining Claims being offered for sale. None of this historic activity diminishes the historic or recreational value of the properties. In fact, many feel it enhances its character.
Finally in regard to environmental concerns, on January 11, 2002 President Bush signed the Brownfield Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act. This and other recently enacted laws clarify the circumstances under which a “prospective purchaser” or “innocent land owner” may avoid environmental cleanup liability. Without providing legal advice to the buyer and only to help you ask specific questions to an attorney, if you choose to speak to one regarding environmental issues, the following information is provided. The general concept of this new law is that, IF the “prospective purchaser” or “innocent land owner” had no relationship with the “owner or operator” that caused the environmental problem and IF the “prospective purchaser” or “innocent land owner” has “made all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the facility [land] in accordance with generally accepted good commercial and customary standards and practices. . .” THEN the “prospective purchaser” or “innocent land owner” can greatly reduce or eliminate liability for environmental cleanup they did not know of or did not cause. Paragraph 2.1 Purpose of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment we have had completed clearly states, “. . . (the Phase I) is intended. . . to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner defense, as enumerated in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).”
In closing, the properties being offered for sale should be viewed as recreational and of some historic interest. All properties will be sold using a form of Utah Real Estate Purchase Contract; free and clear of all monetary liens; and buyer-provided Owner's Title and Policy. For further information, please contact us.
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