Who owns the west?

Summary of Mining Plans of Operation on BLM Land:

Over 4,000 mining plans and notices, approval all but guaranteed under 132-year-old federal law

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Currently on file with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are 4,272 mining plans and notices filed by 489 companies and 432 individuals, encompassing a total estimated area of 185,513 acres of BLM-managed public land in The United States. These plans and notices are filed on public land laden with gold, silver, copper and other precious metals and minerals worth billions of dollars. And these operations are only those on BLM lands, not on Forest Service lands, for which mining plans and notices are not entered into the government's LR2000 database that forms the backbone of this site. But whether the mines are on BLM or Forest Service land, none of the corporate revenue is reimbursed to the public. Instead, companies leave behind unfathomable amounts of waste. In 2001 alone, the industry dumped enough mercury nationally to fill a billion thermometers and arsenic in quantities that would pollute all public drinking water supplies for 350 years. In 2001, mines generated 45 percent of all pollution reported in the U.S. while accounting for just 0.36 percent of all industrial facilities.

Quick facts about mining plans on BLM land in The United States

• Acres of U.S. public land (BLM land only) under mining plans and notices, estimated: 185,513

• Foreign-owned corporations among top BLM land mine operators: 5 of 10

• Pollution from all US mining operations, ranking among all U.S. industries: : #1 in total toxic releases

• Pollution from top 89 mines in US: 5 times pollution from entire U.S. chemical industry (3,600 plants)

• Western water polluted by mine waste: 40 percent of Western headwaters

• Proposed mining operations that have been blocked by the Department of Interior because they posed a risk to public health or the environment: None

• Other land uses that supercede rights of mining companies to operate on public lands: None

EWG analysis of data compiled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Top Mining Plan/Notice Companies/Individuals on BLM land in The United States Ranked by Acres Affected

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

 Company/IndividualHeadquartersNumber of Mining Plans & Notices on BLM landEstimated AcreagePlan Date(s)
1 Phelps Dodge Mining Co Phoenix, AZ 44 30,265 1980 to 2002
2 Placer Dome Inc World HQ in Canada 48 15,783 1981 to 2003
3 Newmont Mining Corp Denver, CO 142 14,945 1981 to 2003
4 Kinross World HQ in Canada 43 12,878 1981 to 2003
5 Rio Tinto Limited World HQ in Australia 56 11,961 1981 to 2003
6 Barrick Gold Corporation World HQ in Canada 46 11,604 1977 to 2003
7 Atlas Precious Metal Vale, OR 2 7,394 1988 to 1990
8 Glamis Gold LTD World HQ in Canada 19 6,896 1983 to 1999
9 Bentonite Corp Belle Fourche, SD 6 5,306 1997 to 2000
10 Total Minerals Corp Casper, WY 1 5,142 1978
See all plan/notice holders in The United States


State Ranking

 StateNumber of Mining Plans & Notices on BLM landEstimated Acreage  
1 Nevada 1,466 36,560 details map
2 California 902 35,420 details map
3 Arizona 403 34,766 details map
4 Wyoming 148 34,305 details map
5 Oregon 646 11,753 details map
6 Idaho 110 10,492 details map
7 Montana 171 9,238 details map
8 Utah 247 4,498 details map
9 New Mexico 59 3,549 details map
10 Washington 51 3,415 details map
11 Colorado 65 1,336 details map
12 South Dakota 4 181 details map


Examples of Mines in The United States

Name of MineLocation of MineMine StatusMetal MinedOwner or Parent Company of Owner
Beal Mountain MineSilver Bow County, MTClosedGoldPegasus Gold Corp
Oglebay NortonTaos County, NMOpenMicaOglebay
Stillwater MineStillwater County, MTOpenPlatinum groupStillwater Mining Company
Dee GoldHumboldt County, NVClosedGoldGlamis Gold Ltd.
Briggs Gold MineInyo County, CAOpenGoldCanyon Resources Corporation
Deep PostEureka County, NVOpenGoldNewmont Mining Corp
Red Dog MineNorthwest Arctic Borough County, AKOpenLead and ZincTeck Cominco Limited
Mesquite Gold MineImperial County, CAOpenGoldNewmont Mining Corp
Equatorial Mineral Park IncMohave County, AZOpenCopper OreEquatorial Mining Limited
Midas Gold MineElko County, NVOpenGoldNewmont Mining
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.