U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Feb 19, 2020
Under the 1872 Mining Law (30 U.S.C. 22 et seq.), a person has a statutory right consistent with other laws and Departmental regulations, to go upon the open (unappropriated and unreserved) public lands for the purpose of mineral prospecting, exploration, development, and extraction. The Federal Land Policy and management Act requires the Secretary to regulate mining operations in lands under wilderness review to prevent impairment of the suitability of these areas for inclusion in the wilderness system. However, mining operations occurring in the same manner and degree that were being conducted on October 21, 1976, may continue, even if they are determined to be impairing. Mining activities not exceeding manner and degree shall be regulated only to prevent undue and unnecessary degradation of public lands.