Mines on public land add $21bn to U.S. economy – DOI – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – July 30, 2013)


As the manager of one-fifth of the U.S. landmass and 1.7 billion acres offshore, the U.S. Department of the Interior has resources to help the country produce more fossil fuels at home.

RENO (MINEWEB) – The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) estimated Monday that federal public lands contributed $371 billion to the U.S. economy last year including $21 billion in hardrock mineral sales and employment of 111,000 persons.

At the end of FY2012, there were 406,140 active mining claims on public land, with about half of these claims located in Nevada.

“Most of the value associated with locatable mineral production is attributed to gold which is produced in significant quantities on public land,” said the report, The U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2012. It is estimated that more than 3 million ounces of gold was produced from federal lands with the average price of gold in 2012 at $1,700 per ounce.

Domestic gold production last year was estimated to be 230 metric tons, down from 234 metric tons produced in 2011. The value of the U.S. gold mine production was about $12.6 billion, up from $71.8 billion in 2011, according to the Department of Interior.

“A significant proportion of the gold produced in the U.S. is mined on public land (approximately 40%). In 2012, gold was produced at about 50 lode mines, a few larger placer mines (all in Alaska) and numerous smaller placer mines (mostly in Alaska and in the Western States.”

“Nevada accounted for about 75% (142,000 kg) (4,565,406 troy ounces) of U.S. gold production in 2012 (as of October 2012). Alaska accounted for a further 12% (22,300 kg) (716,961 oz) of 2012 U.S. gold production. Production in other states [Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Washington] represented 13% (25,100 kg) (806,983 oz) of mine production,” said the report.

DOI noted that a significant proportion (35%) of the value of the silver mined in the U.S. is associated with silver mined on public lands. Total U.S. silver output fell to 1,050 metric tons in 2012, down from 1,120 metric tons produced in 2011. The total value of U.S. silver production last year was $1.01 billion, down from $1.27 billion in 2011.

Almost all of the platinum mined in the U.S. is produced from public lands, according to DOI.

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