Hardrock Mining Law (1872)

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  • The Hardrock Mining Law, or General Mining Law, of 1872 came into effect under President Ulysses S. Grant, who recognized that the West was not suitable for agriculture. Instead, he advocated mining as an alternative economic basis for development and settlement of the western territories. The law remains in force with its provisions for free minerals, open access, unlimited tenure, and ownership of land as well as minerals. Originally, mining was performed by individual prospectors with pack mules. Though the law was originally intended to encourage settlement and economic development by homesteaders and other individual Americans, by 2011, it primarily applied to international corporations that environmentalists and others claim vigorously despoil the land, largely as absentees.

    The initial law applied to all minerals except coal, but ...

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