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The mining of hard-rock minerals—gold, uranium and other metals—on public lands is governed today by the General Mining Law of 1872. The statute was enacted to promote mineral exploration and development in the western United States.
The law guarantees free access to individuals and corporations, both domestic and foreign-owned, to prospect on public lands and lay claim and develop the minerals without taxpayer compensation. And because the law’s interpretation gives mining priority status, it remains nearly impossible to prohibit or even restrict mining in special areas, regardless of its impact on critical habitat and other natural resources.
Pew's campaign for responsible mining is a national effort to educate and encourage the public and policy makers to adopt a modern framework for mining in the West.
Pew is working with a diverse group of stakeholders toward responsible reform to reclaim our public lands for future generations. Its goals include the following:
Jan 27, 2009 - The nation’s hardrock mining industry owes an enormous debt to President Ulysses S. Grant. For more than a century it has operated under a law he signed in 1872 which now allows companies to extract billions of dollars worth of precious metals, pay no royalties and frequently avoid liability for environmental damage.
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Oct 01, 2008 - Ed Dobb looks across town, and across the West, and finds a gross misuse of public lands due to an 1872 mining law. Can it be changed?
Mar 11, 2008 - Soaring prices for gold, copper, uranium and other metals have produced an explosion of mining claims across the West, encroaching on hundreds of sprawling cities, destination resorts, retirement communities and remote recreation retreats.
Aug 16, 2007 - A modern day land rush is sweeping the West, with mining interests and speculators staking thousands of claims that are encroaching on American treasures including the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Arches and Yosemite National Parks. The United States' outdated mining law written in 1872 leaves these lands vulnerable to severe impacts.
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