Mineral Resources:

Value of Hardrock Minerals Extracted From and Remaining on Federal Lands

RCED-92-192: Published: Aug 24, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the value of hardrock mineral production and mineral reserves on federal lands.

GAO found that: (1) 99 percent of hardrock mining claims are concentrated in 12 western states, and about 47 percent of the lands are federally owned; (2) one-third of the gold and over a quarter of the silver produced in those 12 states in 1990 were extracted from federal lands; (3) the estimated value of hardrock minerals extracted from federal lands in the 12 western states totalled $1.2 billion; (4) an estimated 14.2 percent of the value of hardrock mineral production in those states came from federal lands, while nonfederal lands generate 78 percent; (5) 83 percent of the value of the mineral production came from Nevada; (6) the Mining Law of 1872 allows federal lands to be privately patented, which explains the disproportion between the value of western federal land production with the amount of western federal land owned; and (7) the estimated total of known reserves in the 12 states totals $64.9 billion.