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Northwest Mining Association

determined by use and occupancy was allocated between the Bureau
of Land Management and the u.s. Forest Service. The record-
keeping and title function was restricted to the Bureau of Land
Management, and includes a provision for registration of mining
claims, with maps, with that agency. The Bureau of Land
Management has done well with its title records, but is still
deficient in some areas because of lack of cooperation from other
agencies, such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Porest
In 1980 the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation
and Liability Act of 1980 was enacted, and has since been
criticized as being poorly drafted and hastily considered. This
enactment provided for any expensive reclamation program, to be
financed by anyone who happened to appear in the chain of title
to a property, and has resulted in extensive and expensive
With limited attention to the foregoing history, the legislative
initiative before the Subcommittee arıses out of oversight
hearings conducted by Representative Nick J. Rahall, II,
resulting in a Bill introduced by Mr. Rahall in the 101st
Congress, H.R. 3866. Hearings were held upon that Bill, and a
revised and expanded Bill, 60% longer, is now before the
Subcommittee in the form of H.R. 918. The Bill clearly violates
the National Policy under the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of
1970, and the Northwest Mining Association is still attempting to
determine the motivation behind the legislative proposal. It
appears to have been initiated by a Congressman from an eastern
state, a state that has no involvement with public lands or the
laws relating to mining upon public lands. The Association
received a comment from one of its members in Idaho expressing
his view of the motivation behind the legislative initiative as

*Rahali has two industries in his state of
W. Virginia which are coal mining and WELFARE
and low wages. He is attempting to inflict
upon the us, in particular the Northwest what
ne has accomplished within his own state

The Association, as a whole, does not necessarily subscribe to this view, but would like to know what the purpose of H.R. 918 really is, since the existing laws and regulations are operating as smoothly as can be expected in a large-scale program. The Association may not know why the proponents of H.R. 918 are pursuing this proposal, but the Association is closely enough associated with its members to be able to predict what the result will be if the Bill is enacted into law. Mining in the public lands will be brought to a precipitous halt immediately, and


Northwest Mining Association

undoubtedly substantial litigation will be conducted asserting
claims against the government for compensation for the
expropriation of the property values currently existing.
One aspect of H.R. 918 is simple to analyze, and that is that all
rights of all persons in all claims dated at any time located
under the existing laws will be terminated and their value
expropriated three years after enactment of the statute. In
addition, it is clear that upon enactment of H.R. 918 all mining
operations must cease immediately on existing mining claims,
because such operations will violate the new requirements of
prior permitting dictated by the statute. The Northwest Mining
Association circulated an inquiry (copy attached), to elicit
information regarding the status of operations upon existing
mining claims, since the Congress seems unaware of the effect of
peremptory destruction of these claims. The inquiry resulted in
a large number of responses from members of the Association, and
from non-members, received from points ranging from Texas to
Alaska. In response to the inquiry from the Association the
following information was obtained:
1. Numerous mining companies have ore reserves or

mineral reserves established in currently
unpatented mining claims, including one
company that reports reserves of over one
million ounces of gold, one that reports an
active mine operating totally upon unpatented
mining claims, and reserves held in unpatented
mining claims adjacent to patented mining
claims being mined at deep levels underground,
in many instances currently being produced in
active mining operations. These reserves were
discovered by the expenditure of large sums of
money, in a number of instances measured in
millions of dollars.


Also, existing upon unpatented mining claims,
it has been reported that there is at least
one major installation, consisting of a
crushing plant, mill, shops, and office
buildings, all in place under a mining plan
approved by the U.S. Forest Service, with a
replacement cost of an estimated
$100,000,000.00. In addition, there are
numerous instances that have been disclosed to
date of other less extensive surface
installations and buildings on unpatented
mining claims, and necessary waste or tailings
disposal areas on such claims.
It has been disclosed in the Coeur d'Alene
Mining District in Idaho that there is access


Northwest Mining Association

across unpatented mining claims, deep under-
ground, that is required to be maintained for
haulage, ventilation, drainage, and mine
safety, to provide an alternate access for
miners. If this access were lost, the deep
mines operating on patented claims could be
subject to peremptory closure.
The consequences of eliminating the mining
claims of individuals and companies for which
another company is contractually conmitted to
maintain the claims in good standing is not
subject to simple analysis, because most of
the agreements provide for unilateral termina-
tion by the operating company. Of course such
termination would be by forfeiture of all
development, mineral deposits discovered, or

other values developed on the claims. The proponents of H.R. 918 appear to ignore the implications of a taking of this magnitude, and the consequent major claims against the government for a taking without compensation under the Constitution. Before undertaking to destroy these property values, the Subcommittee should make further inquiry regarding the economic consequences of this precipitous action. The Association does not believe that many, if any, individuals or companies will be enticed into attempting to operate under the new "concession system" proposed in H.R. 918. Inherent in the program are rapidly escalating costs, lack of assurance of being able to mine a mineral deposit that has been discovered, with a very real likelihood that the necessary clearances to operate will take interminable periods of time, with the absolute right of the agencies involved to prohibit mining, and then to terminate mining at any time based upon conditions not known or anticipated at the time the mine is financed and developed. In addition, the program requires the "concessionaire" to underwrite restoration of historic mine-related damage caused by prior parties. The Bill also provides for a dual and duplicative recordkeeping system, which will require reference to two separate agencies to determine the status of lands for purposes ot mining, in effect destroying the unitary set of records that was supposed to be part of the Organic Act. It will prove ainust impossible for a responsible mine operator to justify the high expenditure for discovery of a mineable deposit, if the deposit cannot be mined when discovered. It is the current view of the Association that the new concession system is not workable, and will not foster and encourage private enterprise in development of mineral resources, but will instead prove prohibitive.

Northwest Mining Association

There is no simple way to make a workable program out of H.R. 918 and no amendments that could be suggested that would improve it, since its basic concepts are totally erroneous. The Bill should be rejected out of hand. The Northwest Mining Association, whose members are primarily westerners, are used to plain talk, and believe the Congress should say what it means. If it has now become the policy of the federal government to prohibit all future mining upon the public lands, and to terminate further mining activity on existing claims effective upon enactment of H.R. 918, and to expropriate all existing mining claims without compensation, Congress should so state. The Congress should not engage in double-talk and Newspeak, but instead say what it means.

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There are currently two bills pending in Congress to repeal the existing claim location laws and to substitute a new system for acquiring aining rights on public lands. The tvo bills are the Bumpers Bill, S. 433. introduced in the Senate, and the Rahall Bill, R.R. 918, introduced in the House of Representatives. These are both modified versions of the bills introduced in the last session of Congress and contain some significant modifications from the first proposals. Each of the bills has the effect of eliminating all existing unpatented claims at the end of three years, although th are various provisions permitting conversion or pre-emptive rights to locate new 'claias' as they are defined in the new bills. Neither of the bills provides for patenting, ellminating any future right to obtain title as has been the practice for over a century and a quarter. Also pending is a proposal of the Bureau of Land Management to publish regulations regarding use and occupancy of unpatented mining claias, vich numerous restriccions upon what work or improvements could be done or maintained on the claims.

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The proposals in Congress and in the Bureau of Land Management are
proceeding with a view that somehow unpatented aining claims are simply
claims, sometimes with a sinimum amount of exploration effort expended,
substantially ignoring the actual practices of the Industry in use of
unpatented mining claims. In order assist the Northwest Mining
Association in dealing with the issues raised, ve would ask each member to
cooperate by furnishing specific, or non-specific, Information regarding
existing uses of unpatented aining claims that will be disrupted by
invalidation of the claias, or will be inhibited by naive regulacions
regarding use or occupancy.
Please respond to the Association, as soon as possible, with answers to
che following specific areas of inquiry.
1. Do you or your organization currently claim ore reserves or

mineral reserves In unpatented claims, whether minable direct, or

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by lateral entry froe pacented claims? 2. Do you or your organization know of significant surface improve.

nents, either being used in operations, or usable in operations, such as crushing and beneficiation plants, explosive storage facilities, warehouses and machine shops, waste or tailings disposal areas, or other improvements that have been made for mining purposes on lands that are unpatented claias?

Cupher Lure

Pega CCM



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