GAO Report: Hardrock Mining: Information on State Royalties and Trends in Mineral Imports and Exports

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on August 20, 2008

Hardrock Mining: Information on State Royalties and Trends in Mineral Imports and Exports, GAO-08-849R, July 21, 2008.

  • “Since the passage of the General Mining Act of 1872, miners have extracted billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, copper, and other hardrock (locatable) minerals from federal lands without having to pay a royalty. Congress is now considering amending the General Mining Act to, among other things, assess a royalty to ensure that the public is compensated for hardrock minerals extracted from federal lands, as more recently enacted laws require for oil, gas, and other minerals. The vast majority of the federal lands where hardrock mining operations occur are in 12 western states, including Alaska (hereafter referred to as the 12 western states). These western states have statutes governing hardrock mining operations on lands in their state. However, unlike the federal government, these states charge royalties that allow them to share in the proceeds from hardrock minerals extracted from state-owned lands. In addition, most of these states charge taxes, such as severance taxes, mine license taxes, or resource excise taxes, on hardrock mining operations that occur on private, state, and federal lands. Although states may use similar names for functional royalties they assess, there can be wide variations in their forms and rates.”
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