Mining on Public Lands No. 314
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the General Mining Law of 1872, intended to encourage mining of our public lands. The act remains on the books (although a temporary moratorium is currently in effect). The Act provides that anyone who discovers a "valuable mineral" on most of the public domain has an automatic right to mine it, no matter what other values exist on the site. Any profitable ore is considered "valuable."
Since mining companies pay no royalty for ores removed, some $2-4 billion worth of minerals are taken free annually from public lands. Moreover, when these are mined by foreign companies, the profits go abroad.
The holder of a mining claim is granted the right to "patent" (purchase) title to the land and minerals for $5.00 an acre or less if they prove they can mine the minerals at a profit. Federal agencies must make the sales. Patenting is not required for mining a claim. Since 1872 over 3.2 million acres of public lands (approximately the size of Connecticut) have been given away through patenting at $5/acre. These lands contained over $241 billion in mineral reserves to which mining companies assumed ownership.
An example is the Jerritt Canyon Mine in Nevada, which brought in $1,113,200,000 of recoverable mineral value profit for a South African corporation. The total price paid to the U.S. was $5,000. In 1994, the American Barrick Corporation patented approximately 1000 acres of public land in Nevada that contained over $10 billion in recoverable gold reserves. For this they paid the United States $5,140.
ADA expresses its solidarity with the efforts of the MineralPolicyCenter and supports a total reform of the Mining Law of 1872.
ADA supports unfettered presidential authority to protect lands via the creation of national monuments.
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Energy, Environment and Economic Commission