The hardrock mining industry has acquired the title to an estimated 3.7 million acres of land previously owned by the public and rich in gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals. Although a moratorium on new mining "patents" - conversion of public lands to private - has been in place since 1994, the government continues to grant pending requests. Since 2000, 15,600 acres of public lands across 12 western states have been converted to private ownership, for a price capped at $5 per acre in 1872. See who has gained title to lands since 1980, 1990, or 2000.
|Quick facts about patented lands in The United States|
Acres of federal land, previously public, titled the mining industry: 3,718,326
Companies and individuals granted patents, total: 60,688
Dollars paid for each acre: $2.50 or $5
Land area given away since 1990: 32,267 acres
Royalties paid to federal government from mines on patented public land: $0
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 Patents||Estimated Acreage||Patent Date(s)|
|1||AMCOL International Corp||Arlington Heights, IL||245||21,681||1950 to 2001|
|2||Weber Oil Company||unknown||9||21,120||1955 to 1959|
|3||National Lead Co||unknown||197||19,597||1942 to 1967|
|4||Union Oil Company of California||Sugar Land, TX||2||18,125||1986|
|5||John W Savage||Rifle, CO||15||17,000||1986 to 1987|
|6||Joseph L Fox (Trustee)||Lakewood, CO||13||16,922||1986|
|7||Phelps Dodge Mining Co||Phoenix, AZ||151||15,715||1906 to 2001|
|8||Rio Tinto Limited||World HQ in Australia||136||11,402||1905 to 1978|
|9||Energy Res Tech Land||Denver, CO||6||11,012||1986|
|10||Dresser Industries||Houston, TX||14||10,869||1982 to 1989|
|See all patent purchasers in The United States|
|State||Number of Patents||Estimated Acreage|
|Name of Mine||Location of Mine||Mine Status||Metal Mined||Owner or Parent Company of Owner|
|Pogo||Southeast Fairbanks Census Are County, AK||Proposed||Gold||Sumitomo/teck Cominco Limited|
|Trenton Canyon||Humboldt County, NV||Open||Gold||Newmont Mining Corp|
|Lucky Friday Silver Mine||Shoshone County, ID||Open||Silver ores||Hecla Mining Company|
|Florida Canyon Mine||Pershing County, NV||Open||Gold||Florida Canyon Mining|
|East Boulder Mine||Stillwater County, MT||Open||Platinum group||Mmc Norilsk Nickel Of Russia|
|Cripple Creek & Victor Mine||Teller County, CO||Open||Gold||Anglo American|
|Continental||Grant County, NM||Suspended||Copper Ore||Phelps Dodge|
|Jamestown||Stanislaus County, CA||Closed||Gold||Sonora Mining Corporation|
|Blackbird||Lemhi County, ID||Closed||Cobalt||Noranda|
|Mt. Pass Mine & Mill||San Bernardino County, CA||Open||Rare earths||Molycorp|
|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.