10/03/2007 - In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law designed to let pick-and-shovel miners stake claims on the vast stretches of public lands that dominated the Western frontier.
These days, that law allows multinational mining companies to dig huge pits on federal property, extracting billions of dollars in gold, uranium and other minerals without paying royalties. Environmental and watchdog groups, including Earthworks and Taxpayers for Common Sense, say the law cheats the public, poisons the land and is now allowing hundreds of mining claims within miles of the Grand Canyon.
For decades, mining companies and Western lawmakers have beaten back attempts to update the mining law. But the combination of a new Congress, consolidation in the industry and a push by image-conscious retailers, including Tiffany & Co., has boosted the opportunity for change, said Jane Danowitz, who directs the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining.
Read the full article Royalty-Free Mining Days May Be Near End on USA Today's Web site.