Biden Seeks Mining Law Reform to Compel Extraction Firms to Pay Royalties for Gold, Copper

September 19, 2023 13:01:45

The Biden-Harris administration is seeking mining law reforms that would require mining companies to pay royalties for extracting minerals from U.S.-owned lands. Led by the U.S. Interior Department, the administration is calling for changes to a century-and-a-half-year-old mining law that governs the mining of gold, copper and other hardrock minerals.

These changes include levying royalties on mining companies based on the minerals they extract, a first in the U.S. mining industry; creating a mine leasing system; and coordinating permit issuing efforts across a variety of federal agencies. These recommended changes come at a time when top U.S. leaders are emphasizing the importance of decoupling the country from foreign nations such as China and investing in local mining of the minerals needed for clean -energy infrastructure and electric vehicles.

This is part of broader global efforts to cut carbon emissions and combat climate change by replacing petrol and diesel-powered cars and fossil fuels with electric cars and renewable energy respectively. The changes would affect an 1872 law that prevents the U.S. government from collecting royalties on minerals mined from federal U.S. lands.

While environmental groups and Democrats have argued against these laws for decades and called for fees on local mining companies, the GOP opposes such fees and has used its House majority regularly to prevent them from becoming law. However, the Biden administration is now recommending a 4% to 8% net royalty on hardrock minerals sourced from federal lands; the administration will need Congressional approval to advance the plan.

Even though gaining bipartisan support for the fees will be nigh impossible, an interagency working group under the leadership of the Interior Department has outlined the pros of levying royalties on around 750 hardrock mines that are mostly located on federal lands in the west USA. According to the working group’s report, such a royalty would ensure U.S. taxpayers are adequately compensated for any minerals extracted from federal lands. The royalties would also be used to fund programs for cleaning up abandoned mines, issuing mining permits and helping local, tribal, and state governments build infrastructure for communities that depend on mining.

While more than 10 Western nations collect royalties on hard rock minerals, the U.S. is an outlier that hasn’t levied royalties on such minerals for more than a century. The report noted that there were no arguments regarding why an efficiently designed system for leasing federal lands to mining companies would not be as equally successful in the United States.

The mining industry, including entities such as Arizona Metals Corp. (TSX: AMC) (OTCQX: AZMCF), is likely to take a keen interest in this proposed regulatory change since it could have impacts on their operations.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Arizona Metals Corp. (TSX: AMC) (OTCQX: AZMCF) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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