Who owns the west?

Mining claims in Washington

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The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 50,632 acres of U.S. public land in Washington, 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 Washington

• Total number of claim-holders: 639

• Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 50,632 (87% of Seattle (55955 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

• Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 23%

• 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 Washington 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 Teck Cominco World HQ in Canada 379 7,830 1896 to 2000
2 Kinross World HQ in Canada 220 3,292 1969 to 1999
3 Mt St Helens Mining Kelso, WA 114 2,355 1900 to 1995
4 Metaline Contact Mns Murray, ID 113 2,335 1924 to 1973
5 Wind River Mining Co Portland, OR 65 1,343 1993
6 Maria T Thomas Concrete, WA 62 1,281 1992 to 1999
7 Richard E Delano Calabasas, CA 58 1,198 1993
8 Evy Delano unknown 58 1,198 1993
9 Graymont Western US Inc Salt Lake City, UT 44 908 1988 to 1991
10 Lawmont Mining Co Federal Way, WA 34 702 1967 to 1968
See all claim holders in Washington

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 Washington Ranked by Acres Claimed

 CountyNumber of ClaimsEstimated Acreage  
1 Pend Oreille County 564 11,689 details map
2 Skamania County 336 7,671 details map
3 Okanogan County 372 6,621 details map
4 Kittitas County 213 5,177 details map
5 Ferry County 213 4,386 details map
6 Chelan County 140 3,860 details map
7 Skagit County 100 2,183 details map
8 Whatcom County 91 2,157 details map
9 Stevens County 98 2,068 details map
10 Snohomish County 65 1,840 details map
See all counties


Examples of Mines in Washington

Name of MineLocation of MineMine StatusMetal MinedOwner or Parent Company of Owner
K-2 Mine SiteFerry County, WAClosedGoldKinross Gold Corporation
Kettle River Mill SiteFerry County, WAClosedGoldKinross Gold Corporation
Midnite MineStevens County, WAClosedUraniumNewmont Mining Corp
Crown Jewel / BuckhornOkanogan County, WAProposedGoldCrown Resources
Pend Oreille MinePend Oreille County, WAClosedLead and/or Zinc OreTeck Cominco Limited

Source: EWG analysis.