USGS Mineral Resource Program takes hit in FY 2014 budget proposal

April 11, 2013

The Obama Administration’s FY 2014 USGS budget request is $1.2 billion, which is $98.8 million above the 2012 enacted level. However, to optimize investment in certain high priority areas, some targeted reductions were made. A net reduction of $2.4 million in the Mineral Resource Program is included as the program evaluates options to modernize and realign in an era of rapidly changing minerals information and science needs. That reduction includes a $1.2 million cut to the National Mineral Information Center and a $1 million cut to mineral resources, along with a general program reduction. Rare Earth Element research saw a budget increase of $1 million and high priority research on critical minerals increased $1.13 million. Also $3 million was dedicated to the study of environmental impacts of uranium mining.
The report can be found here.

The following is the excerpt from BLM’s Summary of the President’s Budget proposal concerning hardrock mining.

The 2014 budget includes two legislative proposals to reform hardrock mining on public and private lands by addressing abandoned mine land hazards and providing a better return to the taxpayer from hardrock production on Federal lands.

The first component of this reform addresses abandoned hardrock mines across the Country through a new AML fee on hardrock production. Just as the coal industry is held responsible for abandoned coal sites, the Administration proposes to hold the hardrock mining industry respon¬sible for abandoned hardrock mines. The legislative proposal will levy an AML fee on uranium and metallic mines on both public and private lands. The proposed AML fee on the production of hardrock minerals will be charged on the volume of material displaced after Janu¬ary 1, 2014. The receipts would be split between Federal and non-Federal lands. The Secretary would disperse the share of non-Federal funds to each State and Tribe based on need. Each State and Tribe would select its own priority projects using established national criteria. The proposed hardrock AML fee and reclamation program will operate in parallel with the coal AML reclamation program as part of a larger effort to ensure the Nation’s most dangerous abandoned coal and hardrock AML sites are addressed by the industries that created the problems.

The second legislative proposal institutes a leasing pro¬cess under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 for certain minerals, gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, uranium, and molybdenum, currently covered by the General Mining Law of 1872. After enactment, mining for these metals on Federal lands would be governed by the new leas¬ing process and subject to annual rental payments and a royalty of not less than five percent of gross proceeds. Half of the receipts would be distributed to the States in which the leases are located and the remaining half would be deposited in the Treasury. Existing mining claims would be exempt from the change to a leasing system, but would be subject to increases in the annual maintenance fees under the General Mining Law of 1872. However, holders of existing mining claims for these minerals could voluntarily convert their claims to leases. The Office of Natural Resources Revenue will collect, account for, and disburse the hardrock royalty receipts.

The report of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement can be found here.


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