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Landmen 

 
Author: Jack Caldwell

Summary

This review focuses on Professional Landmen and the work they do for mining companies. Claim staking and land titles are also discussed.

INTRODUCTION

In the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, the term Landman referred to a seaman with less than a year's experience at sea. After a year, the landman was generally considered an Ordinary Seaman. Later, the term evolved into a more formal rating for a seaman. In the US and Canada the term Landman is used to refer to individuals who do negotiations and title research work for oil and mining companies.

In this piece I focus on Landmen and their work for mining companies - even though I suspect most Landmen work for oil companies.


Professional Landman

I know only one Landman whom I like, admire, and respect. Sylvia Good provides this description of what she does.

I am a Mineral Landman with 33 years experience. I am a mineral title specialist. I research title to the minerals in fee lands, patented mining claims, and unpatented mining claims--whatever lands the geologist is interested in; untangle complicated title problems, whether multiple overlapping unpatented mining claims or from a hundred years of recorded documents; handle title curative, such as preparing deeds, affidavits, releases of leases, etc., or arranging for probates; lay out claim-staking projects, manage the claim-staking crew, prepare the notices of location, record and file with the BLM; and handle the annual BLM filings for a number of mining companies. I have worked for mining companies or law firms, and have been an independent consultant, as I am now. Some assignments take a day; some take nine months; some take years (I once spent 3 years in Cripple Creek, Colorado). I interface with geologists, government officials, mining engineers, and landowners. I have taken my turn as weekend supervisor of an active gold- mining operation, have done quite a bit of public speaking and have written or been co-author of several papers.

Associations

A good place to start looking for Landmen is the American Association of Professional Landmen. Here is an extract from their site that explains more about the role and function of Landmen.

The American Association of Professional Landmen is a voluntary international professional organization that unites approximately 7,000 landmen and land-related persons through professional development and service. AAPL is made up of men and women with varied educational backgrounds. The majority have business degrees; many have expanded their scope with law degrees. In the past 25 years, numerous landmen have come from the petroleum and minerals land management degree programs offered by several universities. AAPL members work for major oil companies, large and small independent companies and as self-employed independent landmen. The national organization, has 44 affiliated local associations located in different regions across the United States. AAPL also works closely with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen.

In Nevada try the Nevada Landmen's Association. Their site is sparse, but their links to sites relevant to Nevada mining issues is extensive. Included are links to the Nevada Mining Claim Procedures and forms that you may need if you decide to use one of their members to stake your claim in Nevada. Sadly their last posted newsletter in 2001.


Lawyers

You may of course stake your claim yourself. But, I would advise against it. Hire a Landman or a lawyer. Contact the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (info@rmmlf.org, 303-321-8100) for the names of mining attorneys in a particular state.


Landmen Consultants & Practitioners

In British Columbia there is Stewart & Clark Landmen Limited. I quote their mission: "to assist the mining fraternity and oil and gas exploration companies to determine who owns various mineral rights in British Columbia and in particular on Vancouver Island. Additionally, we specialize in researching historical ownership of contaminated industrial and mining sites for both private parties and government clients."

All over Canada there is Pioneer Land and Environmental Services They state:

Our professional staff will negotiate and draft Farmouts, Options, Join Operating Agreements, Pooling and Unitization Agreements. We'll prepare:

  • Title options
  • Historical searches
  • Assignments and Novations
  • Sale and Purchase Agreements
  • Other acquisition and divestiture documentation

Obviously they are primarily involved with the oil and gas industry, as are the majority of Landmen, but they also serve the mining and minerals industry.

Incidentally here is the definition of a term I had not previously come across: FARMOUT - A contractual agreement with an owner who holds a working interest in an oil and gas lease to assign all or part of that interest to another party in exchange for fulfilling contractually specified conditions. The farmout agreement often stipulates that the other party must drill a well to a certain depth, at a specified location, within a certain time frame; furthermore, the well typically must be completed as a commercial producer to earn an assignment. The assignor of the interest usually reserves a specified overriding royalty interest, with the option to convert the overriding royalty interest to a specified working interest upon payout of drilling and production expenses, otherwise known as a back-in after payout (BIAPO).


Mexican Landmen

In Mexico you may wish to consult IMDEX, Inc who have over 30 experienced Mexican geologists, geotechnicians, permitting experts, landmen, expediters and office support personnel on staff, all of whom understand the needs of the international mining community and what it takes to get things done in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. Our bilingual contact persons make communication between client and field personnel straightforward. Our diverse staff allows us to offer a full range of services, up to complete turnkey exploration management operations where we also handle the tax, accounting, and insurance aspects of your program. We also have contacts for a broad range of experienced Mexican specialty consultants as needed.

Their site continues on the issue of Landmen:

Complete land status research in Mexico requires examining records kept in local, district, and Mexico City offices of various mining agencies. By law, many of the most important aspects of land research, claim filing, claim surveying, and tying into the National Mining Survey Grid may only be done by licensed landmen called "Perito Mineros". We have experienced Peritos on staff to handle work in the local and regional offices of the Agencia and Delegacion de Minas and we also have a Perito Minero/Land Consultant on retained in Mexico City for research and trouble-shooting in the Direccion General de Minas and Registro Nacional de Minas. Our Peritos are also very experienced filing claims from 20 to 250,000 hectares, have access to modern surveying equipment, and have excellent records for having their claim applications accepted. Land Services include:
  • Land Status Research
  • Claim Filing and Claim Surveying
  • Contacts with Surface Owners
  • Assistance with Claim Acquisitions
  • Claim Holding

Software

Got chatting with Richard Staker of Maxwell Integrated Data Management about Landmen and software. He reminded me that LeaseControl of the Maxwell products is used by many Landmen and other folk in mining companies who are responsible for keeping track of leases, payment of rents, and reporting to authorities. Richard will have to tell you more as I cannot glean more from the brochures.

AlbertaLandman has software for the management of land titles in Alberta. This is how and why they may be able to help you:

Does your company get your certified land titles from SPIN (Government of Alberta's website) as individual PDF titles? If your company spends a lot of time searching for titles, wading through PDF files, and pulling out current landowner information then it's time you looked at the Land Titles Module from Alberta Landman.

Ever a sucker for a good story, I confess my favorite is the following, and I make no apologies for the extended quote (if you are running out of patience, no need to go further, there is no salient information after this quote.)

Dennis Wrestler writes of Professional Landman Software:

In the early 2005 I got back into the title business after a 20 year hiatus. I was working a large prospect in Utah with 500 in-house leases when we acquired 400 more leases totaling 38,000 acres. Some had title partially completed, some no title work, many needed curative work, and nothing was organized. We were on a tight timeline (aren't we always!) and I discovered that no software tools had been created to help manage a big project like this.

It seems there was a technology gap from the last oil boom, in the pre-computer days, to the present boom. Necessity really is the mother of invention, and so the idea and impetus for the Professional Landman Software was born. Together with my software designer friend, Judy Schaefer, I designed and created this database tool to pull together ALL the information you need to manage any large (or small for that matter!) landman project - who owns what, what's leased, what's not, and what needs to be done to dot those i's and cross those t's to wrap up the project with a bow.

Because this lease management tool was created by an experienced landman specifically for leasing and tract management, it is the ideal, complete solution for the true professional landman, leasing agent, project manager, the end client and others in the oil and gas and right-of-way industries.


Claim Staking and Land Title

If we are to believe the web, you do not need a Landman: you can easily go out and stake your claim and proceed to mine. The guide to doing this in the USA is on the pages of the quintessential American site (free, rough, and effective), namely The Prospector. In Ontario go to a book beautifully prepared by the government: A Guide to Staking Mining Claims.

In British Columbia you can stake your claim on the web. But be careful you do not lay claim to land to which the First Nations lay claim. That could lead to much expense and delay. I know of one mining company that budgeted one million dollars for negotiating with the folk who claimed the land because their ancestors got here first.

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