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Do you or your organization know of instances of required access across
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.
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:]
I am John Wright, an independent mining and geologic consultant
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
subdivisions". Yet "legal subdivisions" as defined under Section