Who owns the west?

Mining claims in New Mexico

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The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 170,231 acres of U.S. public land in New Mexico, resources worth millions of dollars a year, acquired for as little as $0.84 per acre and held in perpetuity for a yearly rental fee as low as $0.62 an acre. Under a 132-year-old law originally intended to spur development of the West, an industry dominated by a handful of multinational corporations pays no federal royalties, and leaves behind a landscape of dramatically diminished value, scarred with tunnels, pits, and toxic waste piles.

Quick facts about mining claims in New Mexico

• Total number of claim-holders: 895

• Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 170,231 (7.5 times Santa Fe (23872 acres))

• Dollars paid for each acre: as little as $0.84, and as little as $0.62 yearly rental fee

• Reimbursement to the federal government for gold, silver and other precious metals taken from public land: $0

• Companies owning minerals on at least 10,000 public acres: 1

• Land area ever claimed by the mining industry nationally, estimated: 79 million acres (the size of New Mexico)

EWG analysis of data compiled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Top Mining Claim Owners in New Mexico Ranked by Acres Claimed

Companies have been consolidated to account for subsidiaries. View this table without consolidation.

 Company/IndividualHeadquartersNumber of ClaimsAcreage ClaimedDate(s) Filed
1 Phelps Dodge Mining Co Phoenix, AZ 1,397 28,275 1906 to 2000
2 Robert L Rector Amarillo, TX 198 7,920 2001
3 Thomas E Frisbie Amarillo, TX 198 7,920 2001
4 Kathleen R Gabriella Gunnison, CO 163 6,307 1958 to 1997
5 Northstar 1991 Trust Carson City, NV 162 6,306 1958 to 1997
6 Molycorp Inc Brea, CA 243 5,020 1928 to 1995
7 Kelly Armstrong Espanola, NM 88 4,620 1988 to 1996
8 Richard P Cook Espanola, NM 80 4,464 1988 to 1999
9 Shirley A Cook Espanola, NM 74 4,340 1988 to 1994
10 Debbie Cantrup Espanola, NM 54 4,320 1988 to 1990
See all claim holders in New Mexico

Some of the claimants in this table may be in partnership with other individuals or companies with a claim to the same land.


Counties in New Mexico Ranked by Acres Claimed

 CountyNumber of ClaimsEstimated Acreage  
1 Grant County 2,187 51,102 details map
2 Sierra County 778 19,764 details map
3 Lincoln County 538 16,405 details map
4 Rio Arriba County 305 12,653 details map
5 McKinley County 498 11,403 details map
6 Cibola County 427 9,248 details map
7 Taos County 385 8,280 details map
8 Sandoval County 228 7,613 details map
9 Socorro County 118 5,084 details map
10 Hidalgo County 208 4,750 details map
See all counties


Examples of Mines in New Mexico

Name of MineLocation of MineMine StatusMetal MinedOwner or Parent Company of Owner
Tyrone Copper (sx-ew) MineGrant County, NMOpenCopper OrePhelps Dodge
CrownpointMckinley County, NMProposedUraniumHydro Resources
Chino Copper MineGrant County, NMSuspendedCopper OrePhelps Dodge
ContinentalGrant County, NMSuspendedCopper OrePhelps Dodge
Questa Molybdenum MineTaos County, NMOpenMolybdenumMolycorp

Source: EWG analysis.