Who owns the west?

Who Owns The West?

In the ski resort town of Crested Butte, Colorado, land can sell for $100,000 for just one-tenth of an acre. On April 2, 2004, Crested Butte residents discovered that the federal government had sold 155 acres near the town to the Phelps Dodge mining company for just $875 despite a Phelps Dodge estimate that the land could produce up to $158 million in after-tax profits over 11 years (Lipsher 2004). This sale price may seem unbelievable, but under the Mining Law of 1872, the major federal law governing hardrock mining in the United States, it's business as usual.

• Click on the map (on the right) to view detailed information for each state, or go to the National Report

In the first comprehensive investigation of the hardrock mining industry's control of public assets, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that for as little as $0.84 an acre, mining companies and individuals control 5.6 million acres of valuable public lands and mineral rights scattered across 12 western states. Companies and individuals alike have obtained the right to mine gold, silver, copper and other metals on this property, with no requirement that they pay anything to the federal government for the value of the minerals they extract. Often the only returns the public sees are devastated landscapes, contaminated water and billions in cleanup costs.

The results of this investigation allow you to search the Western U.S. or individual states by claims, patents, plans & notices, companies, and individuals. See the previous "Site Contents" page under "Primer."



map of international mining interests