Summary: H.R.918 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part II (09/11/1992)

Mineral Exploration and Development Act of 1992 - Title I: Mineral Exploration and Development - Sets forth guidelines for mineral exploration on public domain lands. Declares that holders of mining claims executed under this Act have the exclusive right of possession and use of the claimed land for mineral activities (including the right of ingress and egress to conduct such activities).

Prescribes rules for mining claim location and use of public land surveys, including the requirement that a copy of the notice of mining claim location be filed with the Secretary of the Interior (the Secretary). Restricts such claims to U.S. citizens or corporations only. Provides for administrative adjudication of conflicting claims.

Sets forth an annual, graduated rental fee schedule based upon the number of diligence years following location of the claim. Requires the Secretary to deposit all moneys received from rental fees into the Abandoned Minerals Mine Reclamation Fund (established by this Act). Prescribes guidelines under which a claim holder may elect to reduce the amount of the requisite rental fee by the amount of diligent development expenditures made for mining claim mineral activities during the same diligence year to which the rental fee would otherwise apply. Sets a minimum annual rental fee of $2.50 per acre of all land within the boundaries of a mining claim, which shall be all a claim holder need pay in specified circumstances.

Establishes a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation of mining claim requirements.

Prohibits the issuance after February 6, 1991, of patents for vein, lode, placer, and mill site mining claims unless certain administrative requirements are met.

Declares that the Multiple Minerals Development Act, and certain provisions of the Act of July 23, 1955, apply to all mining claims located or converted under this Act.

Amends Federal law to declare that after the date of enactment of this Act, all mineral materials deposits including block pumice, shall be subject to disposal under the terms of the Materials Act of 1947. (Eliminates the concept of uncommon varieties of mineral materials.) Renames specified Federal laws: (1) the Surface Resources Act of 1955; and (2) the Materials Act of 1947. Repeals the Building Stone Act and the Saline Placer Act.

Title II: Environmental Considerations of Mineral Exploration and Development - Prescribes surface management guidelines for mineral activities and reclamation, including a mandatory: (1) plan of operations; (2) mining permit application; (3) reclamation plan; (4) public notice of the proposed plan of operations; (5) approved plan for temporary cessation of activities; and (6) posting of bond and financial assurances by the operator for reclamation purposes.

Mandates that: (1) lands subject to mineral activities be restored to a condition capable of supporting the uses which they were capable of supporting before surface disturbance (or other beneficial uses); and (2) the surface area disturbed by mineral activities be backfilled, graded and contoured to its natural topography.

Requires the Secretary to establish reclamation standards which include certain requirements for: (1) topsoil; (2) stabilization to control erosion and minimize air and water pollution; (3) erosion; (4) hydrologic balance; (5) pit backfilling; (6) revegetation; (7) removal of excess spoil and waste; (8) sealing of drill holes and openings; (9) removal of structures and equipment used during mineral activities; and (10) restoration of fish and wildlife habitat conditions.

Requires the Secretary to inspect mineral activities to ensure compliance with statutory directives. Sets forth enforcement guidelines and civil penalties for non-compliance. Authorizes citizen suits to enforce compliance with this Act.

Declares that State standards for reclamation, bonding, inspection, water or air quality, which either meet or exceed Federal standards, shall not be construed as being inconsistent with this Act. Permits cooperative agreements between the States and the Secretary. Prohibits the Secretary from delegating authorities or responsibilities conferred under this Act to any State or its political subdivision.

Prescribes guidelines within which the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, in preparing land use plans pursuant to specified statutes, shall designate and publish in the Federal Register those areas deemed unsuitable for all or certain types of mineral activities. Requires withdrawal of unsuitable areas from mineral exploration and development. Specifies standards for suitability reviews, including the determination that mineral activities: (1) would substantially impair water quality or supplies within the area subject to the mining plan or adjacent lands, such as impacts on aquifers and aquifer recharge areas; and (2) would impair the productivity of the land. Requires the Secretary to review all administrative withdrawals for possible revocation and reopening of the lands in question for mining claim location subject to certain conditions. Grants any person with an interest that may be adversely affected by potential mineral activities the right to petition the Secretary for a suitability review.

Identifies lands which are not open to the location of mining claims under this Act. Directs the Secretary of the Interior (or other appropriate Secretary) to prevent mineral activities that could have an adverse impact on the resources or values within the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska) and all other National Conservation System units.

Title III: Abandoned Minerals Mine Reclamation Fund - Amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to establish the Abandoned Minerals Mine Reclamation Fund to be administered by the Secretary of the Interior (acting through the Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement) for the reclamation and restoration of land and water resources adversely affected by past minerals (other than cool and fluid minerals) and mineral materials mining within the boundaries of States that have certain lands subject to this Act and the Materials Act of 1947. Sets forth: (1) State eligibility requirements; and (2) Fund allocation and expenditure guidelines for distribution as grants among eligible States. Authorizes appropriations.

Title IV: Administrative and Miscellaneous Provisions - Amends the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 and the National Materials and Minerals Policy Research and Development Act of 1980 to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to implement: (1) minerals policy; and (2) actions to improve availability and analysis of mineral data in Federal land use decision making for National Forest System lands.

Authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture to establish and collect user fees to reimburse the United States for a portion of the expenses incurred in administering this Act.

Directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior to promulgate final regulations to implement their respective responsibilities under this Act, and to coordinate the promulgation of such regulations.

Sets forth guidelines for a three-year transitional period during which the holder of an unpatented mining or mill site claim may elect to convert it. Deems any claim not converted within such period as forfeited and declared null and void.

Declares that any tunnel site located under the general mining laws on or before the effective date of this Act shall not be recognized as valid unless converted according to such guidelines. Sets forth a transitional period for surface management requirements governing new mining claims and preexisting unpatented claims.

Prescribes guidelines under which a mining claim may be challenged after the effective date of this Act.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior to: (1) initiate contest proceedings immediately after the enactment of this Act challenging the validity of certain unpatented mining claims (including those for which a patent application has not been filed); and (2) declare null and void those claims determined to be invalid.

Directs the Secretary to adjust all rental rates, penalty amounts, and other dollar amounts established in this Act for changes in the purchasing power of the dollar every ten years.

Sets a minimum royalty amount of eight percent of the gross income from the production of locatable minerals from any mining claim located under this Act (including mineral concentrates derived from such minerals).

Empowers the Secretary to prescribe reporting requirements and conduct audits of all persons holding claims under this Act to ensure compliance with its requirements.

Sets forth a royalty receipts disposition schedule. Directs the Secretary to: (1) promulgate regulations to establish gross income for royalty purposes; and (2) submit an annual report to the Congress on the implementation of this Act.