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Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release: June 25, 1997
Contact: John Wright 202/208-6416
Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt was forced to sign four more patents under the antiquated 1872 Mining Law to convey minerals on public lands with an estimated recoverable value of more than $16.8 million. The taxpaying public received $910.
“When will Congress end this form of corporate welfare?” said Babbitt. “I am committed to discussions that will lead to genuine reform of this relic of a law that has outlived its usefulness. We need a fair return on the minerals that belong to all Americans. We need a law that is in line with present-day fiscal realities.”
The 1872 Mining Law signed by President Ulysses S. Grant and effective today, allows patents for hardrock minerals on public lands to be mined for $2.50 or $5 per acre. “I have no choice but to carry out my responsibilities under this law,” Babbitt said. “Unfortunately, until Congress steps forward to enact meaningful reform of this law, I must continue to give away America’s mineral resources for an unfair return to taxpayers.”
The four patents are small in comparison to others the Interior Secretary was forced to sign that gave international mining companies the authority to mine billions of dollars of America’s mineral resources for as little as $2.50 an acre.
The mining patents signed today were issued to:
•390•Several individuals for 205 acres in Wyoming containing sodium bentonite with an estimated recoverable value of $10 million. The federal government was paid $512.50.•390
•390•Several individuals for 110 acres in Wyoming containing sodium bentonite with an estimated recoverable value of $4 million. The federal government was paid $275.•390
•390•Mining interests in Alaska for 29 acres containing gold with an estimated recoverable value of $800,000. The federal government was paid $72.50.•390
•390•A mining company for 20 acres in Carbon County, Montana, containing sodium bentonite with an estimated recoverable value of $2 million. The federal government was paid $50. •390
“I am not anti-mining, but I am against this 125 year old law that is severely out of touch with today’s realities,” Babbitt said. “It is time to end the outlandish giveaways under the 1872 law.”
Oil and gas leases on federal lands require the payment of royalties, a percentage of the value of the underground asset. Babbitt has called for similar reform for hardrock minerals, in an attempt to gaina fair return on public resources for the taxpayer.
Since taking office in January 1993, Secretary Babbitt has signed 39 mining patents conveying public mineral resources worth nearly $15 billion to individuals and private mining companies. In return, the taxpayer received a meager $24,511.
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