Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mining and Mineral Leasing

Mining and Mineral Leasing: several laws govern mining and activities related to mineral leasing on public lands, including refuges, except as specific provisions are made otherwise. For refuges, such provisions may include both legislative or administrative withdrawal of areas from the applicable laws, or legislative determinations that particular activities shall not occur. (For example, see Geothermal Steam Act and Federal Coal Leasing Amendment Act entries below.) Questions about the applicability of individual laws to specific Service lands should be directed to the Division of Refuges.

Mining Act of 1872, as amended (30 U.S.C. 21, et seq.) authorizes and governs prospecting and mining for the so-called "hardrock" minerals (such as gold and silver) on public lands.

Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) authorizes and governs leasing of public lands for development of deposits of coal, oil, gas and other hydrocarbons, sulphur, phosphate, potassium and sodium. Section 185 of this title contains provisions relating to granting of rights-of-ways over Federal lands for pipelines. (Additional requirements for refuges are found at 16 U.S.C. 668dd(d)(2).)

Federal Coal Leasing Amendment Act of 1976, in section 16, provided that nothing in the Mining Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, or the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands authorized mining coal on refuges (90 Stat. 1092, not codified; see note after 30 U.S.C. 201).

Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands, as amended (30 U.S.C. 351 et seq.) authorizes and governs mineral leasing on acquired lands.

Geothermal Steam Act of 1970, as amended (30 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.), authorizes and governs the lease of geothermal steam and related resources on public lands. Section 15(c) of the Act (30 U.S.C. 1014(c)) prohibits issuing geothermal leases on virtually all Service-administered lands.

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