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Do you or your organization know of instances of required access across
unpatented claims, either on the surface or underground, that could be
lost if the claims were invalidated? In some instances this may be
underground access to satisfy the safety requirements of MSHA. There
may be powerlines and pipelines involved as well.
What problems would be created under existing contracts committing you
or your organization to maintain unpatented mining claims for third-
parties that will arise if the unpatented claims are invalidated?


Your prompt response to these inquiries will be much appreciated so that the Association can formulate an appropriate position in regard to the pending legislative and administrative proposals.

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Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Wright.

Mr. WRIGHT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the committee. For 17 years, I have made my living in hardrock mining in the West as a miner, as an engineer, and as a geologist. I am what Carl Mayer refers to in his wonderful book as a small miner as a myth. Well, Mr. Chairman, I am here today as a small miner, and there are a lot of small miner myths just like me back home.

But, Mr. Chairman, above all I am honored to appear before this august group and present my detailed written statement as well as to give the following oral summary today.

H.R. 918 would abolish the foundation concept of discovery, convert to a whole new Mining Law working on a pay-as-you-go basis regardless, regardless of real mineral discovery. I can't understand that. H.R. 918 leaves the successful finder of minerals at the mercy of market vagaries. Yet it offers no guaranteed commodity prices to ensure the miner's development and production

H.R. 918 would institute new fees and cost increases, huge impediments to just getting started. Isn't it better to take small bites out of one's pocketbook and measure their effects than to take a big chunk all at once?

Reforms in the Mining Law are needed, but these can be made under the current general Mining Law. Discovery is at the core of the current law, and it is not rotten to the core, as some have said, for discovery is precious. Just ask anyone who has ever made a real mineral discovery. Ridding the law of discovery sends the message it does not matter whether a mineral discovery has been made, mineral activity and environmental degradation can take place anyway. That, ladies and gentlemen, could actually foster such abuses as investment scams and fraudulent discovery, and promote needless environmental disturbance.

Where minerals are rare and hard to find, like tungsten or zinc, I think discovery is absolutely essential, and reward is appropriate for the one who finds them. But where minerals are common and easy to find, like coal or oil, sure it is appropriate to lease them. This bill really only countenances the location of land, not miner. als. Under its approach there would be no such thing as a locatable mineral, only a distinction between lands leasable under the 1920 act or under H.R. 918.

The motive for abolishing discovery and reward is puzzling. It seems that discovery is difficult to deal with in a legal context, and perhaps the legal solution is to simply do away with discovery. Yet discovery in fact really does take place regardless of its legal context. The injustice done to real discovery becomes a central issue then, an issue of justice.

Mining Law reform should go back to discovery. It is the entire motivation and reward for prospecting and mining. Do not abandon discovery out of exasperation. Raise the concept of discovery as the high standard to which we may all repair. As Washington said in the 1789 Constitutional Convention, to paraphrase him, if the mining law, or a mining law is offered by our Congress of which we miners ourselves do not approve, how can we miners and our lawmakers afterwards defend ourselves.

Gentlemen, women, I speak for myself. This bill leaves me deso late for I am armed more with hope than with money. It treats me like a foreigner in my own land. If a small miner like me is to become an extinct myth, I would rather it be by natural selection, by exhaustion of mineral deposits I am able to make and discover or by my failure to improve and adapt, but not by legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I am truly honored to be here today, especially as an embodiment of the myth. Prepared statement of Mr. Wright, with attachments, follows:]

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I am John Wright, an independent mining and geologic consultant
from Grand Junction, Colorado. I have made a living in hardrock
mining in the west for 17 years as a miner, engineer and geologist.
I am what you call a "smail miner"Certainly, I am not a myth.
I have reviewed HR 918 and have grave concerns over ite direction
and some of its specific provisions. At its foundation, it would
abolish discovery". It would convert to a whole new mining lav
that would work on a "pay as you go" basis -- regardless of real
mineral existence... i think that is wrong.
Absent throughout the bill seems any consideration for fluctuating
market prices. In a free market system, markets inspire one to
seek and hopefully make a mineral discovery". They incite one to
dig, produce, and profit from one's efforts. Depressed sarkets
also thwart the miner's efforts through no particular fault of his
own. AR 918 does not allow for this all too frequent occurrence.
Yet, I see features in HR 918 that I think have merit. For
example, a modified "Location and Recordation" system as proposed
could be ideal in securing "pre-discovery" rights which under the
present system are not secure.
On the other hand, I am concerned that the diligence requiremento"
of HR 918 will foster environmental degradation for the sake of
compliance. Simultaneously, it will punish the miner for his
success by forcing him out of business. Such pattern is
antithetical in concept to both environmental protection and to
mineral production.
Now, in the following written testimony, I will take up these
points section by section with specific commentary and
illustrations. And, I will try to make constructive suggestions
as to how problems HR 918 aims to address might be alleviated.

TITLE I -- MINERAL EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT SECTION 103: LOCATION AND RECORDATION OF MINING CLAIMS (a) General Rule Under Section 103 (a) "General Rule", a person may locate a mining claim for a locatable mineral or isicl lands open to location of mining claims.... Should the "or" properly read "on"? It seems a great deal turns on what may be a misprint. It is apparent throughout HR 918 that lands or claims, and not the mineral or discovery itself. are what may be intended for "location regardless of mineral content. (b) Ose of Public Land Survey, and (c) Except ions Clain size: Specific requirement for clain sizes of 40 acres, as described in previous drafts, has been supplanted by general reference to "legal


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subdivisions". Yet "legal subdivisions" as defined under Section
101 (al (5) means an "aliquot quarter quarter section.. or a
single lot...if the pertinent section irregular and for?)
contains fractional lots..." HR 918 provides allowance for a
reduction in acreage on account of some pre-existing property
right. For reasons explained elsewhere in this statement, it
should allow for a similar reduction for a claimant who wants less
(this section: (b) "General", and (e) "Extralateral Rights").
The potential for overlap and conflicting claims under the proposed
system, though seemingly cured on paper, still exists.
Boundary disputes where no overlap is intended will arise. And
direction here is particularly critical when dealing with minerals
in place (as opposed to oil which may freely flow across
boundaries). Without direction, such disputes will likely lead to
untold litigation and fortunes made for surveyors and lawyers
especially in areas where only protracted public surveys exist.
Ultimately the authority as to "where" a given claim might be falls
to the office of the Cadastral Engineer. The Engineer might give
or concur with a verbal legal description but when it comes to
neighboring claimants or issues of trespa88, the question will
inevitably be: "where is this place on the ground?" Perhaps the
Cadastral Engineer should issue calculated co-ordinates for claim
corners in state plane, latitude-longitude, or some other suitable
co-ordinate system along with the legal description? Even that
would be a neat trick, for my own experience in Colorado has shown
not just one, but often several protracted surveys covering the
same ground. This is especially true in mountainous areas where
original surveys were suspended by the Surveyor General or by the
Commissioner of the G.L.O. and have

been resurveyed.
Alternatively, the Cadastral Engineer or his deputy might be
designated to perform the definitive survey where dispute arises,
both public and private.
The location and recordation proposed in HR 918 has the seeds of
a system that would work well for the prospecting or pre-discovery
phase of mining. In reality, such "paper-staking" has little to
do with "location" except descriptive lip-service. In
prospecting phase where the miner should not properly assert any
right against another except the right to "look" I think
such a system is quite workable in concept. I think it will go a
long way toward re-establishing and protecting pedis possessio.
Even though HR 918 abolishes the several claim types countenanced
by existing law in favor of creating but one claim type, I think
HR 918 should provide for a "prospecting site" as distinct from one
on which a discovery has been proven.
If the prospector succeeds in making a real discovery, it's time
to assert a greater possessory right. At this point, the question
18: "where is it?" Then one must go to it on the ground, point to

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