Mining Law Reform and Balanced Resource Management

EMD-78-93: Published: Feb 27, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1979.

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An assessment of trends in hardrock mining in the United States is provided and recommendations are made to reform the Mining Law of 1872 so that current needs and values associated with public land mineral resources can be accommodated. This report is particularly concerned with promoting reform that will provide for social and environmental necessities while not adversely affecting mineral availability in the United States.

Objectives of resource development and environmental protection can be reasonably compatible. However, adequate protection of environmental quality must be included in the cost of doing business. The most feasible approach to mining law reform includes legislation containing provisions to assure compliance with today's needs relating to equity, environmental quality, and sound land-use planning, while retaining provisions to encourage exploration.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Mining Law of 1872 should be amended to meet the goals of timely mineral resource development, fair market value return for public resources, protection of environmental quality, and informed land-use decisionmaking. To meet these goals legislation which is consistent with the multiple-use philosophy embodied in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act as well Forest Service land management statutes should: (1) reaffirm the concept of reviewing all existing land classifications decisions in concert with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976; (2) authorize the exercise of maximum private initiative to explore public lands; (3) grant discretionary authority to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to manage the development of mineral deposits on public lands; (4) provide for competitive bidding in cases where the government knows that a valuable mineral deposit exists; (5) direct the development of a set of environmental regulations specifically tailored for proper control of exploration activities; and (6) provide for federal retention of title to the surface, allowing the claimant to use that portion of the surface required for mining activities, and encouraging multiple uses either simultaneously or at the termination of mining and reclamation activities.

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