If the federal government gets its massive piece of the action with the “Hard Rock Act”, the entire U.S. gold and silver mining industry could go the way of U.S. coal mining. Also, production costs could surge at the same time profits could collapse from government theft regulation…

Physical gold and silver in one’s own possession is the ultimate hedge against uncertainty.

The Federal Government’s Own Report Acknowledges the EPA Was Responsible for the Disaster Mentioned in This Bill:

On the morning of August 5, 2015, mine reclamation activities led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) onsite project team triggered an uncontrolled rapid release of approximately 3 million gallons of acid mine water from the Gold King Mine located about 5 miles north of Silverton, Colorado. Commonly referred to as a “mine blowout,” the outflow carried with it ironoxyhydroxide sediments that had deposited inside the mine workings. The ironoxyhydroxide absorbed heavy metals when it formed in the mine, and when released it changed the acid water to a vivid orange-brown color. The blowout eroded soil and rock debris from the mine portal, eroded pyritic rock and soil from the adjoining waste-rock dump, and eroded road-embankment fill from several downstream unpaved road stream crossings. Most of the eroded rock, gravel, and sand were deposited in Cement Creek.

Straight from one of the senators who introduced the bill himself [Editor’s Note: bold emphasis ours]:

Senators Introduce Bill to Reform Antiquated Hardrock Mining Laws

Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act will ensure mining companies pay their fair share and prevent future disasters like Gold King Mine blowout

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017, legislation to modernize the nation’s antiquated hardrock mining laws. The bill requires companies to pay royalties for the first time for the ability to extract mineral resources like gold, silver, and copper from public lands, helps ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines, and seeks to prevent another toxic spill like the Gold King Mine disaster of 2015. The Gold King Mine blowout spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and communities in New Mexico and Colorado are still waiting for compensation for the damage to their businesses and farms.

“It’s time to end the antiquated sweetheart deal that hardrock mining companies have enjoyed for nearly 150 years,” said Udall, who has fought for mining reform continuously since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. “Like oil, gas, and coal producers, mining companies need to pay their fair share, but because our mining laws date back to the Gold Rush era, it’s the taxpayers who are on the hook for cleaning up hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that are poisoning our watersheds and threatening our communities. The Gold King Mine disaster – and the harm it has caused to Navajo Nation and New Mexico communities – show why we need to bring our laws into the 21st century. We no longer travel West by covered wagon and oxen, and our mining laws should no longer favor Manifest Destiny and the domination of the continent. This legislation will help communities across the West clean up these dangerous abandoned mines, and ensure that taxpayers are getting their fare share of the profit from resources mined on public lands.”

“Toxins leaking out of thousands of abandoned hardrock mines threaten public health and damage our watersheds every day,” said Heinrich. “In the Southwest, water is our most precious resource and we cannot continue to do nothing while toxic metals are drained into our rivers and drinking water supplies. We cannot wait to take action until another Gold King Mine disaster strikes again. It is time that Congress overhaul our outdated and ineffective federal hardrock mining policy so taxpayers aren’t the ones on the hook when something goes wrong. We must come together and pass these pragmatic reforms to stop future disasters, and protect the health of our communities, our land, and our water.

“The Gold King spill continues to be a reminder of the threat that abandoned mines pose,” said Bennet. “Hardrock mining is a part of our heritage in Colorado, but it is long past time to reform our antiquated mining laws. This bill would provide the resources necessary to help clean up the thousands of abandoned mines in Colorado, improve water quality, and prevent a future disaster for downstream communities.”

Private companies that profit from mining on public lands ought to pay for using those lands and for cleaning up the messes they’ve created,” said Wyden. “This common-sense legislation would update a century-old law to make sure hardrock mining companies no longer get a free ride when it comes to cleaning up abandoned mines, which threaten public safety and the environment.”

“Huge multinational mining companies can extract gold, silver and other valuable hardrock minerals right now that belong to American taxpayers without paying a dime under a mining law passed after the Civil War,” said Markey. “The mining law of 1872 isn’t just outdated, it’s outrageous. We need to ensure that these large mining companies pay their fair share to mine on public lands so that we have the revenue to protect public health and the environment by cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of dangerous, toxic abandoned mines in Western states.


Seems odd. The senator from Oregon must not have read the official investigation report on the disaster, or he would have known the spill was caused by the EPA itself.

Also, the History Channel tells us that the “Gold Rush” peaked in 1852 (decades before 1872):

A total of $2 billion worth of precious metal was extracted from the area during the Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852.

How does the west have “hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines” like the senator claims? How many people does it take to work in hundreds of thousands of gold and silver mines?

In fact, which the senator does not disclose, in 1850, the population of the ENTIRE United States was only 23,000,000.


But the West has hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines?

Don’t just take the math for it, here’s a 1906 map that shows just how many mines there were at the turn of the century:


The senator’s press release continues:

An estimated half million abandoned hardrock mines like the Gold King are scattered across the West, many leaking toxic chemicals and threatening downstream communities. Yet taxpayers are on the hook to cover the $20 billion-$50 billion it would cost to clean up the mines. The lawmakers’ bill offers a common-sense solution to take the burden off taxpayers.

Current law dates back to 1872 and allows companies to take gold, silver, copper, uranium and other minerals from public land without paying any royalties. The lawmakers’ bill would update the law and impose a common-sense royalty on hardrock mining companies — similar to that paid by oil and gas and coal companies for decades — to help pay for abandoned mine cleanup and prevent future disasters.

The bill is also supported by U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). Udall, Heinrich, Bennet, Wyden, Markey, and Luján championed similar House and Senate bills in 2015.

“The Gold King Mine spill was a painful reminder of the legacy of hardrock mining in the West that has resulted in thousands of abandoned mines that contain toxic materials,” said Luján. “That’s why I am working with my colleagues in the House on similar legislation to update outdated laws that have left the American people to bear the brunt – and the cost — of addressing the damage that has been done to our land and water. We must act to ensure that mining companies contribute to the much-needed effort to clean up abandoned mines.”

The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017 would:

Require hardrock mining companies to pay an annual rental payment for claimed public land, similar to other public land users.

Set a royalty rate for new operations of 2 percent-5 percent based on the gross income of new production on federal land (would not apply to mining operations already in commercial production or those with an approved plan of operations).

– Create a Hardrock Minerals Reclamation Fund for abandoned mine cleanup. The fund would be infused by an abandoned mine reclamation fee of 0.6 percent-2 percent.

Give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to grant royalty relief to mining operations based on economic factors.

Require an exploration permit and mining operations permit for noncasual mining operations on federal land, valid for 30 years and as long as commercial production occurs.

Permit states, political subdivisions, and Indian Tribes to petition the Secretary of the Interior to have lands withdrawn from mining.

– Require an expedited review of areas that may be inappropriate for mining, and allow specific areas be reviewed for possible withdrawal.

So to recap:

This proposed bill would force gold, silver and copper mining companies to an annual rent payment, a 5% tax on revenue, and a 2% (annuual?) “reclamation fee”.

It would give vast authority of the federal government over the states, kill mom & pop hobbyists taking their kids on hikes with metal detectors for some clean, harmless fun, and it would make tens of millions of acres of land off-limits to mining.

On top of that, they can just shut any mine down as they see fit.

There is just one major problem:

Since mining companies are already losing money because of precious metals price suppression, and the companies are trying to make up for the losses on volume, there wouldn’t even be any volume to sell because gold and silver production in the U.S. could grind to a halt as the federal government can just shut it all down.

Since the government can’t confiscate gold & silver if the government doesn’t know where somebody decides to hide the precious metals from prying hands, with this proposed legislation, the federal government can tax the crap out of mining companies and wreak havoc on share prices. Call it “gold confiscation by proxy”.

Stack accordingly…

– Half Dollar


About the Author

U.S. Army Iraq War Combat Veteran Paul “Half Dollar” Eberhart has an AS in Information Systems and Security from Western Technical College and a BA in Spanish from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paul dived into gold & silver in 2009 as a natural progression from the prepper community. He is self-studied in the field of economics, an active amateur trader, and a Silver Bug at heart.

Paul’s free book Gold & Silver 2.0: Tales from the Crypto can be found in the usual places like Amazon, Apple iBooks & Google Play, or online at Paul’s Twitter is @Paul_Eberhart.