Who owns the west?

Mining claims in Sierra County

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The hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 43,783 acres of U.S. public land in Sierra County, 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 Sierra County

• Total number of claim-holders: 1,002

• Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 43,783 (4,378 typical city blocks)

• 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

• 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 Sierra County 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 Robert W Latta Sierra City, CA 13 1,541 2001
2 Ralph C Hostetler Penn Valley, CA 13 1,541 2001
3 Aaron Latta Sierra City, CA 11 1,500 2001
4 Bette Latta Sierra City, CA 11 1,500 2001
5 Don Marten Santa Rosa, CA 12 1,401 2001
6 Helene Latta Sierra City, CA 8 1,200 2001
7 Heather Latta Sierra City, CA 7 1,080 2001
8 Original 16 To 1 Mine Inc Alleghany, CA 51 1,047 1872 to 1985
9 Mark Marten Sierra City, CA 6 940 2001
10 Sandra Rouse Grass Valley, CA 7 840 1995
See all claim holders in Sierra County

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


Examples of Mines in Sierra County

Name of MineLocation of MineMine StatusMetal MinedOwner or Parent Company of Owner
Sixteen To One MineSierra County, CAOpenGoldOriginal Sixteen To One Mine

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.