How to Sample Minerals And Stake a Claim
How to Sample Minerals and Rocks
Sampling is a very important part of the exploration process and the opportunities for abuse are legion. When one looks down at a bit of rock that looks exactly like a million other bits of rock and thinks, “Boy, if this has high grades of gold or other minerals in it, then my future is secure”, there is a tendency to want to nudge things a bit. Think of what must have gone through the mind of Mr. de Guzman as he sweat it out in a locked shack in the jungles of Indonesia. Sampling should always be organized such that another person is ready to check the work done to see if the results stay the same.
Samples can be taken of almost anything and analyzed to see if there are minerals hiding nearby. Soil can be sampled, water can be sampled, plants can be sampled, rocks can be sampled, air can be sampled. And the samples are then analyzed using very complex and expensive machines to see if that new Mercedes SUV figures in your future. Usually it is advisable to collect the samples in some sort of pattern so that the assay results can be plotted and pretty colours applied to see if there are “hot spots”. That is why high values of what is being assayed are coloured red – this makes the hot spots look… well.. hot.
Once the samples have been systematically collected along a stream bed, a rock wall or whatever, they are placed in bags appropriately called “sample bags” and given a name or code. Believe it or not this is the most difficult of tasks for most geologists. Imagine… an area of study that is primarily dedicated to the detailed classification of things and the practitioners cannot figure out a system of naming a couple of thousand samples of those things! It is breathtaking really. They usually come up with a name like IP-MMJ-041206-1a-iib. When questioned they will then tell you that this is sample number 1. So why not call it sample number 1 and collect all the other important information in some other fashion? I have had this fight a couple of times… sorry for the outburst.
How to Stake a Claim
The mineral claim or concession is the legal document that grants ownership over subsurface materials (in this case minerals). Every political entity in the world has a system for purchasing the claim and registering the ownership. In some jurisdictions the process is relatively simple and the title is defensible. In others it is laborious and the resultant title may or may not stand up to challenges. The prospector must be very careful to check the business and legal climate of the area he/she is working in.
With the increasing ability and desire of smaller personal and corporate entities to do business in increasingly remote parts of the world a competition between political entities has resulted in more secure legal frameworks in which to stake claims. If one country cannot demonstrate that a mineral claim properly registered can be defended, that country will see very little mineral exploration activity. And mineral exploration activity can lead to very lucrative tax receipts for the presiding government. The message is starting to get through.
What follows are brief descriptions of the procedures to stake mineral claims and concessions in a number of popular jurisdictions in the world. These procedures are not meant to be exhaustive, conclusive and they may not be up-to-date. Rather they give a glimpse into the relative ease or difficulty of registering claims. It is mandatory that the prospector (owner, a vendor or a purchaser of a claim) seek advice from a lawyer familiar with the rules of that jurisdiction on such matters, just as one would when purchasing a home.