Federal Mining Laws

  • Ronald W. Tank


Acquisition of mining claims on federal land is a right granted by the Mineral Location Law of 1872, also known as the “1872 Mining Law” and the “Hard Rock Mining Law” (17 Stat. 91). This law, passed by Congress on May 10, 1872, continued a policy of opening mineral lands to exploration, and the acquisition of mining rights on federally owned land is, for the most part, still governed by this law. The principal exceptions are a series of leasing acts that have made certain nonmetalliferous minerals and all land on the Outer Continental Shelf exclusively leasable and not open to acquisition by claim staking, and the Materials Disposal Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 681) as amended by the Surface Resources Act of 1955 (69 Stat. 367), which defined and withdrew a group of salable minerals, or “common varieties,” from mineral entry. There are, of course, numerous additional federal statutes relating to mining on federal lands, and state laws are permitted to elaborate on some aspects of mining law where the federal laws are silent.


Coal Mining Mining Operation Public Land Mineral Land Federal Land 
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Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald W. Tank
    • 1
  1. 1.Lawrence UniversityAppletonUSA

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