H.R. 2579 would change the terms for hardrock mining on federal land, mostly in the Western United States. The bill would not allow new claims to be made under the current system; instead, it would establish a leasing program. Production from existing hardrock mines would be subject to a royalty of 8 percent; royalties, rents, and fees also would be levied on new leases and production; and the budgetary classification of claim maintenance fees would be changed. In addition, 25 percent of all royalties, rents, and certain other fees collected would be paid to the state in which the minerals are produced.
H.R. 2579 would establish the Hardrock Minerals Reclamation Fund and would require royalties, rents, and fees remaining after payments to the states be deposited into that fund. The bill would authorize appropriations from the fund to be used for mining reclamation. The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service would be responsible for related administration, inspections, and consultation with tribes. Finally, the bill would require hardrock mining operators to pay royalties, rents, and other fees on their activities on federal land and would terminate current mining-related cooperative agreements between federal agencies and the states and require new agreements consistent with the bill.