So You Want To Own A Crystal Mine!
There are at least three ways to get your own crystal mine. First, you can buy land with the mineral rights. Second, you can buy an existing mineral lease on government property from another starving miner. Third, you can nominate a parcel of government land to be put up for competitive bid for the quartz mineral rights. I will address the last method since that is how "Sweet Surrender Crystal Mine" came to be.
The first thing you have to do is identify government (National Forest) land that has the potential of producing crystal. You can talk with the Forest Service, other miners and local residents in the area. When you find the area you want, you nominate the parcel of land by submitting a description and a $100 nomination fee to the local Forest Service District Ranger. The minimum size parcel of land is 10 acres and the maximum size is 80 acres.
Once the District Ranger receives your nomination the Forest Service begins an analysis on the parcel of land which includes an environmental analysis, biological evaluation, and a cultural resource survey. I don't know what all this involves but it can take a long time. It took a year and a half to complete this process for my mine. When the Forest Service gets all the ‘red tape’ blocks checked, they will publish a formal announcement that this parcel of land will be put up for competitive bid and the dead line for bids to be submitted. Anyone can submit a sealed bit on the parcel of land you have nominated. The minimum bid is $50. Past bids have ranged from $50 to over $8000. At a specified date and time, the District Ranger will open the sealed bids and the quartz mineral rights for the nominated parcel of land will be leased to the highest bidder. But you are not done yet.
If you are the successful bidder, you will be given a five year contract and a bill for the first years contract fee. The annual contract fee is based on the number of acres under contract according to the following schedule: Year 1 - $5/acre, Year 2 - $10/acre, Year 3 - $20/acre, Year 4 - $30/acre, Year 5 - $50/acre.
Next, you must develop and submit an operating and reclamation plan to the District Ranger for approval. Sample plans will be provided by the District Ranger. The District Ranger will then determine how much of a reclamation bond you have to provide based on what it would cost the government to reclaim the site if you abandoned the operation without completing the reclamation. Current bonds range from $500 to $20,000 depending on the complexity of the proposed operation. The bond will be returned to you when you terminate mining operations and reclaim the site to the government's satisfaction. But you are not done yet.
If your parcel of land has pine trees on it (which most do) which you plan to remove before digging for crystal, you have to buy the trees because you are now in the lumber business. The cost of the trees you plan to remove will depend on the board feet of lumber in them. Sixty, new growth, eight inch trees cost me a whopping $10. I gave the trees to a couple old loggers who used a mule to haul and load the trees on their truck. Now, with somewhere between $3000 up to $10,000 invested, you are about ready to dig crystal in your own mine. But you're not done yet.
Next, you need the equipment to dig crystal. You can dig by hand, but it will probably take a long time (years) to get enough crystal to pay for your investment. A sample list of preferred equipment for crystal mining is: Track hoe ($5,000 to $50,000), Air Compressor and drilling equipment ($3000 to $10,000), Explosives ($500 to $2000), 4X4 Pickup ($1000 to $30,000). With your equipment on site you are now a crystal miner and are about ready to dig. It has taken one to two years and your life savings to become a starving crystal miner. But you're not done yet.
Don't forget to take the "Mine Safety Training Course" required by the
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and to get your explosives
training and certification. Read all the MSHA, OSHA, ATF, Forest Service,
BLM, and pertinent State rules, regulations and publications that will
govern your operations. This will take another month or two and you still
won't know what you can or can't do. The last thing you need is a lot of
luck. Good luck!
And now, if you want to see the "Official Government" documentation of how to get a mining lease check out this web site: www.fs.fed.us/oonf/minerals/welcome.htm Actually, it's very good information.