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The BLM opposes enactment of H.R. 918 for the following reasons:

First, it would have a negative impact on the fundamental principles of the existing Mining Law. They include (1) self-initiation, (2) access to public lands, (3)

security of tenure to mineral deposits, and (4) due diligence.

Second, it would create a significant administrative burden to implement and administer.

Third, it would fragment administration between the BLM and the Forest Service.

And fourth, it is unnecessary because the principal objectives of surface management and accountability can be achieved under existing statutes and regulations.

I am confident that BLM's planning and reclamation requirements together with our surface management program effectively address the environmental and other surface management matters covered by H.R. 918. Key elements of our current surface management program are a mandatory inspection schedule for all operations; a mandatory bonding policy, issued in 1990, for activities conducted under plans of operations; a cyanide management policy, also issued in 1990, that ensures that operations using cyanide or other lethal chemicals provide for the safety of the public as well as the environment; and, finally, close coordination with State agencies which have a significant responsibility in regulation of mining operations.

In addition, within the next few weeks, we plan to issue proposed regulations requiring financial guarantees for reclamation on operations that disturb 5 acres or less. We are also amending our regulations to eliminate abuses by squatters on mining claims by providing for legitimate occupancy of claims on the public lands. We are discussing the rules package with OMB as part of a preliminary review

In addition, we are issuing instructions to our field offices to begin an inventory of reclamation at all operations since issuance of the Surface Management Regulations in 1981. They are to review current practices to identify successful techniques.

Finally, we are engaged in ongoing evaluation of our regulations and policies that pertain to hardrock mining. We are focusing on reclamation and other environmental concerns.

We do not support wholesale changes in the Mining Law. However, we do believe that there are several issues that require legislative action.

First, we propose to replace the annual assessment work requirement with a holding fee of $100 per year for each unpatented claim. The proposal is expected to discourage nuisance claims, but also reduce unnecessary surface disturbance carried out to maintain a claim.

Second, we support amending the Materials Sales Act of 1947 and the act of July 23, 1955, to eliminate the distinction between common varieties versus uncommon varieties of mineral materials. These include, for instance, sand, gravel, clay and cinders.

Finally, we believe the $2.50 per acre patenting fee is too low and support exploring alternatives to this fee. We have identified several possibilities in my written testimony.

These actions would help us to administer the Mining Law more efficiently. It would also assure a fair return to the Government for use of the surface during mineral production. The Mining Law will continue to function successfully on the public lands and in an environmentally sound manner.

Now, let me highlight just a few of our concerns about the effects of H.R. 918 on the basic principles of the Mining Law.

Under H.R. 918 we would have to police due diligence among rival claimants. At present, rival claimants bear the financial burden of settling their disputes. They are therefore usually more willing to settle a conflict among themselves. Under H.R. 918 rival claimants would make use of the Department's administrative review procedures at no cost to themselves but at tremendous cost to the Federal Government.

There are also a host of problems associated with the require ment that existing claims will be converted within 3 years after enactment of the bill. First, there would probably be a staking rush with claimants hopping and hoping to overturn the conversion requirements of the bill in the courts. Second, a strong potential exists for a taking, since a failure to convert an existing claim would result in declaring the claim null and void. Third, the process of converting existing claims would be extremely expensive for both the Federal Government and the claimants. Finally, in the absence of a test of discovery, we know of no way under this bill that the Federal Government can challenge the existence of a mining claim on Federal lands needed for a public purpose. Under the current law, the validity of the claim can be challenged by either a rival claimant or the Federal Government.

As I indicated earlier, we also have concerns about the administrative and surface management requirements of H.R. 918. These are discussed in detail in my written testimony.

That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions.

Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Cy.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Jamison follows:)

UN 1 8 1991

STATRAERIT OF CY JAMISON, DRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON MINING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES, COMMITTEE ON INTRIQ AND INSULAR APTARS, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES ON H.R. 918, A BILL "TO MODIFY THE REQURBIENTS APPLICABLE TO
LOCATABLE MINERALS ON PUBLIC DOMAIN LANDS, CONSISTENT WITH PRINCIPLES OF
SALL-INITIATION OF MINING CLAIMS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES."

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to present the

Adalaistration's position on H.R. 918, the Mineral Exploration and

Development Act of 1991". If enacted, .R. 918 would restructure the rights,

responsibilities, and procedures associated with mining claims and the

development of locatable ainerals.

I will also discuss some of our Own

laltiatives as they relate to our contemporary adaloistration of the Mining

Law of 1872.

The Adataistration opposes H.R. 918 and its sweeping change of the

discovery-location-patent system that has served us well.

Our laitatives

effectively address many of the same 18sues that H.R. 918 seeks to address.

The legislation also has pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) implications as I will discuss

later.

We are committed to the retention of the four principles of the current Mining

Lav

self-initiation of algeral rights, free access across public lands,

Security of teaure to adneral deposits and diligence that 18 self-policing.

They are deemed to be the "backbone" of the law and have secured for it the

success shown over more than a century in promoting exploration for, and

development of, much of the Nation's "hardrock" vineral resources.

The

flexibility shown by the law in response to changes in aineral deposit styles,

mine type and size, industry structure, and environmental concerns

.

These actions would help us to administer the Mining Law i efficiently. It would also assure a fair return to the Governmen use of the surface during mineral production. The Mining Law continue to function successfully on the public lands and in a vironmentally sound manner.

Now, let me highlight just a few of our concerns about the el of H.R. 918 on the basic principles of the Mining Law.

Under H.R. 918 we would have to police due diligence am rival claimants. At present, rival claimants bear the fine burden of settling their disputes. They are therefore usually willing to settle a conflict among themselves. Under H.R. 918 claimants would make use of the Department's administry review procedures at no cost to themselves but at tremendou to the Federal Government.

There are also a host of problems associated with the re ment that existing claims will be converted within 3 years aft actment of the bill. First, there would probably be a staking with claimants hopping and hoping to overturn the conversi quirements of the bill in the courts. Second, a strong pot exists for a taking, since a failure to convert an existing would result in declaring the claim null and void. Third, the ess of converting existing claims would be extremely expensi both the Federal Government and the claimants. Finally, in t sence of a test of discovery, we know of no way under this bi the Federal Government can challenge the existence of a claim on Federal lands needed for a public purpose. Under ti rent law, the validity of the claim can be challenged by ei rival claimant or the Federal Government.

As I indicated earlier, we also have concerns about the ac trative and surface management requirements of H.R. 918. are discussed in detail in my written testimony.

That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I would be to answer any questions.

Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Cy.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Jamison follows:)

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