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9 Pages

Mineral Facts and Fictions

WithRichard W. Wright

Mineral deposits, especially in long-explored areas such as the lower forty-eight states, generally are hidden beneath the surface and can be found only through costly and risky exploration. Historically, an absolute preference was given to mineral activity, based on fictions which continue to enjoy widespread currency in the mining industry. The US Bureau of Mines figures themselves demonstrate an accelerating magnitude of surface disturbance as mining moves increasingly from underground to open-pit and surface mining. Leasing, or a modified claim system with some control over access and with the right to impose restrictions to prohibit impacts, would allow a more balanced approach. From the standpoint of the federal taxpayer, such payments are a bogus issue, since they almost all are turned over to the western states rather than to the general treasury. Moreover, the western states can and do take care of themselves through severance, property and sales taxes.