House committee prepares push to make mines pay royalties on gold, other minerals

Local News

FILE – This undated file photo shows Barrick Goldstrike Mines’ Betze-Post open pit near Carlin, Nev. (Adella Harding/The Daily Free Press via AP, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. — House Democrats from some western states are preparing to push for changes to a longstanding law that governs mining on U.S.-owned lands.

A government report published Monday by the Government Accountability Office shows that the U.S. stands out among some other countries such as Australia Canada and Chile that collect royalties on gold, copper and other minerals.

The U.S. does not typically collect royalties on those minerals.

House Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, says the mining industry should pay at least as much as oil and gas companies, which typically pay royalties of 12.5% on resources extracted from federal lands.

Nevada, which produces most of the gold mined in the United States, has no representatives on the House committee that is pushing for royalties. According to one recent estimate, Nevada produces 78% of the gold mined in the U.S.

The panel’s energy subcommittee, chaired by California Democrat Rep. Alan Lowenthal, is holding a Tuesday oversight hearing on the legacy of mining in western states, where many mining companies went bankrupt decades ago and left behind environmental cleanups that taxpayers are funding.

Past efforts to significantly change the government’s mining law that dates to 1872 have failed.

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