File No. 812.63/152.
The Confidential Agent of the Provisional (Conventionist) Government to the Secretary of State.
The intent of Decree No. 5 of the Provisional Government, dated March 19, 1915, providing for the forfeiture, under certain circumstances, of abandoned or unworked mining claims, is to require the owners of such properties to bear their just share of taxation, and to prevent the acquisition of valuable properties by those who, without contributing to the support of the State, seek nevertheless to enjoy the exploitation of those properties under conditions satisfactory only to themselves.
The provisions of the decree may be reduced, in a general way, to the following:
- Mining claims may be forfeited when the owner either abandons or suspends operations, for a fixed period; but such must be a voluntary act on his part, attended by failure to pay the taxes established by law.
- In case the abandonment of the property or the suspension of operations, followed by the non-payment of taxes, is due to vis major, then the circumstances will be examined into by the Department, which is vested with authority to grant equitable relief.
- No person may hereafter possess the right to denounce more than fifteen mining claims, and no corporation or association is hereafter to be allowed to denounce more than one hundred and fifty mining claims, all in the same district, though the proper Department may make exceptions in certain instances.
In promulgating the decree, the Provisional Government entertains no purpose to employ or impose unreasonable or confiscatory [Page 902] methods, its sole desire being to place responsibility where it belongs, namely, on the owners of mining claims located in districts in which favorable conditions exist, and which afford every opportunity for a continuance of operations. While the profits might not be so great as in normal times, nevertheless there exists reason to believe that large numbers of the properties in the districts mentioned could be worked to advantage. Many owners, however, have exhibited a marked indifference to their obligations to the State and for the time being abandoning their claims have by one means and another sought to evade the payment of taxes.
No narrow construction will be given by the authorities to this decree; on the contrary, its provisions will be applied with such liberality as may be consistent with the rights and interests of all concerned.
Washington , April 19, 1915.