by Scott Harn
ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal
After decades of frustration, we have some great news to report.
Those of you who have been reading ICMJ’s Prospecting Mining Journal are familiar with our monthly reports on the progress of the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council (MMAC). Here is a short recap:
MMAC was formed in early 2015 to assist miners in getting their Mining Districts organized or modernized, and I’ve been honored to serve as a MMAC advisor as well. It’s important because a Mining District is a federally recognized entity. Thousands of these Mining Districts were created virtually anywhere a valuable mineral or metal deposit was found. The miners did such a good job creating reasonable rules and regulations that Congress included Mining Districts in the 1872 Mining Act, which states:
“Except as otherwise provided, all valuable mineral deposits in lands belonging to the United States, both surveyed and unsurveyed, shall be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they are found to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the United States and those who have declared their intention to become such, under regulations prescribed by law, and according to the local customs or rules of miners in the several mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States.”
In March 2016, MMAC advisors made a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress. Over the course of a week, they had over three-dozen meetings with members of Congress and their aides, which included meetings with the Armed Services Committee and the House Resources Committee along with chairman Bob Bishop.
MMAC advisors Clark Pearson, Joe Martori and Bill Jensen learned that many in Congress share our frustration over issues of access to valuable minerals, Travel Management Plans, habitat designations, mineral withdrawals, etc.
All were in agreement – our dependence on foreign sources for valuable minerals and metals is a National Security concern.
At the request of Congress, MMAC worked on several bills to restore the rights of miners within MMAC-assisted Mining Districts. The main bill has been written and rewritten many times, and will likely go through another revision or two before it is presented.
The Latest News
One of the key members who assisted MMAC with writing their bills is now a part of the Trump transition team and will play a major role in public lands decisions.
Toward the end of this month (November 2016), MMAC advisors Clark Pearson, Joe Martori, Bill Jensen and I will be in Washington, D.C., for another week-long series of meetings with influential members of the House and Senate and several key committees, and we should be able to schedule some face time with President-elect Trump and his transition team. We are getting much closer to seeing our legislation passed by Congress. Withdrawals, closures, long delays for Notices and Plans and jurisdictional issues are just a few of the items that we seek to correct on behalf of all miners within MMAC-assisted Mining Districts.
And on December 10 I’ll be in Montana to assist mining claimholders with 60 Mining Districts across 12 counties. (See our "Organized Mining Districts and Public Notices
" page for a full list of those Mining Districts.)
MMAC will also be presenting maps of MMAC-assisted Mining Districts to Congress. If you are a claimholder and your Mining District is in disarray, please contact MMAC for assistance so you can reap the benefits of this historic opportunity.
After many decades of closures, land-use restrictions, and over-regulation, miners and all other public land users may finally see some real relief due to the efforts of MMAC.
Note: MMAC is looking for a qualified MMAC administrator to assist Mining Districts in central California. Please contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you are interested in being a part of history. Training will be provided, and a non-disclosure agreement is required.
More information on MMAC is available in our monthly "MMAC Update" column in ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal
or at www.icmj.com
Those wishing to join MMAC may now do so online: http://www.mineralsandminingadvisorycouncil.org/USDMM-store.html