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"A Red Lady or an Open Pit Mine?"
THE GENERAL MINING LAW OF 1872
"All valuable mineral deposits in lands belonging to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, are hereby declared to be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they are found to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the United States and those who have declared their intention to become such."
What the law means for Public Land:
It has been interpreted to mean mining is the highest and best use for public lands. Under the law, multi-national corporations are able to buy (patent) public lands for $5.00 per acre (there is a current moratorium against patenting), extract minerals from public lands without paying royalties and repeatedly saddle taxpayers with cleaning-up abandoned mine sites.
What we can do to change the law:
When asked about the need for reform, Senator Nick Rahall (D-WV) stated,
"Given our current economic crisis and the empty state of our national Treasury, it is ludicrous to be allowing this outmoded law to continue to exempt these lucrative mining activities from paying a fair return to the American people," Rahall said. "Nobody in their right mind would allow timber, oil, gas, coal or copper to be cut, drilled for, or mined on lands they own without receiving a payment in return for the disposition of their resources. And neither should the United States."
For additional information,
In general, meaningful reform will balance the demand for minerals with the importance of protecting; crucial drinking water, outstanding natural lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and the health and well being of our communities. It will protect our communities and precious resources, while creating jobs cleaning up abandoned mine site and give taxpayers a fair return on their land.
Specifically meaningful reform must include:
1) Royalty payments from all hardrock mines on public lands- an 8 percent royalty for future mines and a 4 percent royalty from currently operating mines.
2) An end to selling public lands.
3) A clean-up fund for abandoned hardrock mine sites.
4) A threshold environmental standard that will prevent destroying other valuable resources for the sake of mining.
Ask your Senator to support meaningful reform.
Send your elected officials an email. See below for letter ideas and contact links.
Coloradoans- Senator Mark Udall is a member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Genuine mining law reform should be based on respect for our natural resources and recognition that water is a vital resource readily damaged by improper mining practices. Mining reform should make special places such as national parks, cultural sites, national forest roadless areas, Wilderness Study Areas, and Wild and Scenic River Systems off limits to new mining claims. Furthermore, it should allow state, local and tribal governments petition rights to withdraw important areas from future mining activities.
Starting on the 14th of July, the Senate committee on Energy and Natural Resources began hearings on 1872 Mining Law Reform- your voice can make a difference.
Genuine reform must ensure that American taxpayers are fairly compensated for mineral development on public lands. This will ensure funding to clean-up hundreds of thousands abandoned mines around the West.
As stated by Stephen D’Esposito, former director of EARTHWORKS, "What's needed are three common-sense reforms: the right of the public to say 'no' when mining isn't the best use of our public lands; a requirement that mining companies pay to clean up their messes as a cost of doing business; and a provision that mining companies pay taxpayers a fair price for mining on public lands" (quoted in Seattle PI 6-11-2001).
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How can stake a claim?
Any US citizen or a person declaring that they will become a US citizen or a US Corporation or a foreign Corporation with a US subsidiary can stake a mining claim on public land. The basic federal guidelines are (1) make a discovery; (2) post a location notice; (3) place stakes at corners and mark boundaries; (4) record the location notice; and (5) pay your $100 annual fee and keep the claim forever; or put a little more colorfully, “By simply driving four stakes into the ground, filling out a form, and paying a filing fee of $135, anyone can claim federal land that has not been specifically withdrawn from mining and maintain their claim for an annual $100 fee, which only partially covers the government's cost to process the paperwork,” writes Roger Featherstone of Great Basin Watch.
Where can I stake a calim?
There are some limits to lands that may be staked- areas that have been withdrawn from mining exploration, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic River and River likely to receive Wild and Scenic status, areas within 1420 feet of Wild Scenic River, National Parks, National Monuments, Indian Reservations (Federal Recognized Tribes).
There is a moratorium on patens. A patented mining claim is one in which the Federal Government has passed the title to the mining company. So, once the mining is over at least we get the polluted lands back.
"Mine all Mine" or what 1872 means to you.