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Mining law might go modern

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Doug Krizner: Minerals like gold, silver and copper taken from federal lands could soon get a lot more expensive. Today, lawmakers consider a proposal to change U.S. mining law for the first time in more than a century. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: When Ulysses S. Grant signed the 1872 Mining Act into law, it was aimed at giving pick-and-shovel miners access to public lands on the vast Western frontier.

Today, that law still gives them a free pass. But the iconic lone miner has long been replaced by multinational corporations. They extract billions of dollars of minerals from public lands, royalty-free.

Jane Danowitz is with the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining.

Jane Danowitz: The bottom line is modern mining needs a modern law.

Western lawmakers have thwarted past attempts to change the law. But Danowitz says this time around, it’s different.

Danowitz: This is a new West, where protecting public lands is the major driver of local economic interests, rather than extracting metals from them.

But the metal industry says mining still plays a vital role in the western economy. It plans to spend about $20 million defending the industry through advertising and lobbying.

In Los Angeles, I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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