We all use minerals every day and responsible mining can help provide much-needed resources to our nation. However, the current law governing mining on public lands - the General Mining Law of 1872 - is badly out of date. IMBA and the Outdoor Alliance believe that after 135 years, it's time to modernize this law. Frontier days are over. Today, we understand that public lands provide many things, such as clean water and outdoor recreation opportunities, that are often more valuable than the minerals underground.
Because it was written in another era, the 1872 Mining Law fails to recognize or accommodate this reality. For example, it allows mining companies to take public minerals without royalty and purchase public land for the 1872 price of $5 per acre or less. The law sells off valuable public lands to mining firms for a fraction of their real value, depriving American citizens of their outdoor birthright.
The 1872 Mining Law should be modernized. Mining on public land must be balanced with all other uses of public land, including clean water and outdoor recreation. IMBA and the Outdoor Alliance believe Congress should explore the following reforms:
- Recognize public land values other than mining.
- Protect the nation's historic sites, national parks, wild and scenic rivers, Wilderness areas, and Native American cultural sites.
- Put an end to the outdated practice of land patenting.
- Require that mined land be restored to pre-mining conditions and that water be protected.
- Create of a modern and fair royalty system.