The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 5.6 million acres of U.S. public land, resources worth billions 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 The United States|
Total number of claim-holders: 28,408
Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 5,569,929 (2.5 times Yellowstone National Park)
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: 190
Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 21%
Profits accrued in 2002 among top corporate claim-holders: $4 billion
Single greatest factor controlling how much public land is claimed at any time: The price of gold
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||Newmont Mining Corp||Denver, CO||17,643||347,458||1886 to 2003|
|2||Placer Dome Inc||World HQ in Canada||13,766||268,758||1886 to 2003|
|3||Rio Tinto Limited||World HQ in Australia||10,097||191,928||1886 to 2003|
|4||Barrick Gold Corporation||World HQ in Canada||5,768||125,956||1905 to 2003|
|5||Phelps Dodge Mining Co||Phoenix, AZ||7,105||124,297||1906 to 2000|
|6||Kinross||World HQ in Canada||4,306||98,853||1905 to 2003|
|7||Cameco Corp||World HQ in Canada||3,209||66,204||1953 to 2002|
|8||ASARCO, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico||World HQ in Mexico||3,187||61,801||1890 to 2003|
|9||Dr Gordon Reynolds||Price, UT||300||48,000||1997 to 1999|
|10||Carl Pescio||Elko, NV||2,277||46,996||1994 to 2003|
|See all claim holders in The United States|
Some of the claimants in this table may be in partnership with other individuals or companies with a claim to the same land.
|State||Number of Claims||Estimated Acreage|
|Name of Mine||Location of Mine||Mine Status||Metal Mined||Owner or Parent Company of Owner|
|Copper Queen Branch Mine||Cochise County, AZ||Closed||Copper Ore||Phelps Dodge|
|Round Mountain Gold Mine||Nye County, NV||Open||Gold||Round Mountain Gold Mine|
|The Wharf Mine||Lawrence County, SD||Open||Gold||Gold Corp.|
|Midnite Mine||Stevens County, WA||Closed||Uranium||Newmont Mining Corp|
|Capstone Bootstrap||Elko County, NV||Closed||Gold||Newmont Mining Corp|
|Pinto Valley||Gila County, AZ||Closed||Copper Ore||BHP Billiton|
|Argentum||Esmeralda County, CA||Open||Rare earths||Columbus S.M., LLC|
|Deep Post||Eureka County, NV||Open||Gold||Newmont Mining Corp|
|Kensington Mine||Juneau Borough County, AK||Proposed||Gold||Coeur D'Alene Mines Corp|
|Midas Gold Mine||Elko County, NV||Open||Gold||Newmont Mining Corp|
|See more mines in The United States|
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.