The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 245,869 acres of U.S. public land in Montana, 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 Montana|
Total number of claim-holders: 1,630
Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 245,869 (42 times Helena (5760 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: 2
Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 25%
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.
Companies have been consolidated to account for subsidiaries. View this table without consolidation.
|Company/Individual||Headquarters||Number of Claims||Acreage Claimed||Date(s) Filed|
|1||Beartooth Platinum Corp.||World HQ in Canada||1,055||21,186||1999 to 2001|
|2||MMC Norilsk Nickel of Russia||World HQ in Russia||849||15,567||1968 to 1991|
|3||Sterling Mining Company||Coeur d'Alene, ID||444||7,744||1958 to 2003|
|4||Graymont Western US Inc||Salt Lake City, UT||383||7,474||1979 to 2003|
|5||ASARCO, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico||World HQ in Mexico||346||7,117||1890 to 1998|
|6||Larry Pilster||Alzada, MT||68||6,600||1965 to 2003|
|7||Apollo Gold Inc||Denver, CO||316||6,478||1939 to 1997|
|8||Edward Pilster||Alzada, MT||65||6,460||1965 to 2003|
|9||Madge Pilster||Alzada, MT||60||6,360||1965 to 2003|
|10||Helen Pilster||Alzada, MT||59||6,300||1965 to 2003|
|See all claim holders in Montana|
Some of the claimants in this table may be in partnership with other individuals or companies with a claim to the same land.
|County||Number of Claims||Estimated Acreage|
|1||Sweet Grass County||1,561||30,419||details||map|
|10||Lewis and Clark County||422||10,866||details||map|
|See all counties|
|Name of Mine||Location of Mine||Mine Status||Metal Mined||Owner or Parent Company of Owner|
|Montana Tunnels Mine||Jefferson County, MT||Open||Gold||Apollo Gold Corporation|
|Basin Creek Mine||Jefferson County, MT||Closed||Gold||Pegasus Gold Corp|
|Continental Copper Mine||Silver Bow County, MT||Open||Copper Ore||Montana Resources/ASARCO|
|East Boulder Mine||Stillwater County, MT||Open||Platinum group||MMC Norilsk Nickel of Russia|
|Stillwater Mine||Stillwater County, MT||Open||Platinum group||Stillwater Mining Company|
|Troy Mine||Lincoln County, MT||Closed||Copper Ore||ASARCO|
|Zortman Landusky Mine||Phillips County, MT||Closed||Gold||Pegasus Gold Corp|
|Golden Sunlight Gold Mine||Jefferson County, MT||Open||Gold||Placer Dome US Inc|
|Beal Mountain Mine||Silver Bow County, MT||Closed||Gold||Pegasus Gold Corp|
|Mineral Hill||Park County, MT||Closed||Gold||TVX Gold Inc.|
|See more mines in Montana|
Source: EWG analysis.
Source: EWG analysis of Bureau of Land Management's Land and Mineral Records 2000 (LR2000) data system. For claims, acreages are estimated based on maximum allowable size of claims. For patents, acreages are taken directly from the LR2000 database where available, and are estimated based on maximum allowable size of claim that preceded the patent where acreages are not noted in LR2000. All notices are assumed to be five acres in size, and the size of plans are calculated directly as the size of the land represented by the legal land description in the LR2000 database. The acreages we estimate through these methods would tend to overestimate the actual amount. We welcome corrections here, and would welcome a federal data management system that included the acreages involved in these important federal land transactions.