We have had our attention called to certain proposals regarding federal lands and their management.
We have preached, lectured and scolded that prospectors, miners and mining companies need to guard their rights as protected by the 1872 Mining Law. It is our handbook, you might say the miner’s bible.
Now we’re going to refer you to a website on the proposed Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management 2015 budget: http://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2015/highlights/upload/BH007.pdf
It is entitled “Bureau of Land Management” – Bureau Overview.” Dry reading, huh? So we’ll skip to the good stuff…
Under the heading Legislative Proposals -- page BH11, skip to Hardrock Mining Reform: Depending on your interest in hardrock mining, this first page can be read or be skipped. We’ll come back to this subject in a bit.
Page BH12: “The second legislative proposal institutes a leasing process under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 for certain minerals, gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, uranium, and molybdenum, currently covered by the General Mining Law of 1872. After enactment, mining for these metals on Federal lands will be governed by the new leasing process and subject to annual rental payments and a royalty of not less than five percent of gross proceeds. Half of the receipts will be distributed to the States in which the leases are located and the remaining half will be deposited in the Treasury. Existing mining claims will be exempt from the change to a leasing system. The proposal also increases the annual maintenance fees under the General Mining Law of 1872 and eliminates the fee exemption for miners holding ten or fewer mining claims. These changes will discourage speculators from holding claims that they do not intend to develop. Holders of existing mining claims for these minerals could voluntarily convert their claims to leases. The Office of Natural Resources Revenue will collect, account for, and disburse the hardrock royalty receipts. “
Okay, whether you read it all or not, I want to call attention to a few key phrases:
1 – currently covered by the General Mining Law of 1872;2 – mining for these metals on Federal lands will be governed by the new leasing process;
3 – existing mining claims will be exempt from the change to a leasing system;
4 – increases annual maintenance fees and eliminates the fee exemption for miners holding ten or fewer mining claims;
5 – Holders of existing mining claims… could voluntarily convert their claims to lease.
So, in general, what we have feared has become reality. A way has been found to circumvent the 1872 Mining Law!
Does this apply to placer miners? It is under the heading Hardrock Mining Reform. Look at #5 – Holders of existing mining claims. It doesn’t differentiate and if you look at the General Mining Law of 1872, neither does it! So go back and read it all!
I’m soliciting comments on the five issues above. Email me at email@example.com and please break it out into the issues as listed. Be forewarned that I will not read or publish political finger-pointing. It isn't a matter of who, it's a matter of protecting our rights!
I will expand on each item in future blogs, one at a time. You have no idea how much I have to say on each and hope to incorporate your comments!