Who owns the west?

Mining Patent Purchasers in The United States

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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.

Mining Patent Purchasers in The United States 1-20 of 60,688, Ranked by Acres Patented

Companies have been consolidated to account for subsidiaries. View this table without consolidation.

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  Company/IndividualHeadquartersNumber of PatentsAcreage PatentedPatent Date(s)
1 AMCOL International Corp Arlington Heights, IL 245 21,681 1950 to 2001
2 Weber Oil Company   9 21,120 1955 to 1959
3 National Lead Co   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   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
11 Foote Mineral Co Silver Peak, NV 2 10,793 1988
12 Lorraine E Gregg Rifle, CO 8 10,752 1986
13 Ertl Theo Trustee Boulder, CO 8 10,752 1986
14 Donald M Lesher Trust Rifle, CO 8 10,752 1986
15 Shale Oil Syndicate Inc   13 10,460 1930 to 1945
16 Delos D Potter   43 10,067 1910 to 1957
17 Leland O Marshall   3 8,937 1923 to 1924
18 Basin Company Salt Lake City, UT 81 8,100 1925 to 1929
19 Dorothy J Josephs Lakewood, CO 6 7,981 1986
20 Amerada Hess Corp Denver, CO 1 7,802 1986
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