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Public Land and Mining Litigation

David A. Bailey, Laurie L. Korneffel, Habib Nasrullah, Natural Resources & Environmental Litigation II (1996)

Although numerous factors have combined to make successful operation of a domestic mining operation a challenging proposition at best, many mining companies in the United States continue to accept that challenge and to explore, develop and mine various properties through-out the country. For several years now, Congress has earnestly expressed its desire to fundamentally change the face of the Mining Law of 1872. However, while Congress attempts to determine which direction it will take, the federal, state and local governments continue their extensive regulation of the mining industry. Litigation abounds in this arena, as the industry attempts to discern the extent and nature of the legal requirements imposed upon all facets of its business, government imposes its policy choices in new and different regulatory initiatives and the environmental community explores the still evolving parameters of the citizen suit.

Of all the issues recently or currently under litigation, perhaps one of the most hotly contested issues industry concerns the ability of the Department of the Interior to delay consideration and issuance of land patents in connection with mining operations. Other issues of particular note concern water quality regulation at mine sites and condemnation proceedings.