Since 1966 the DNR has offered nonferrous metallic minerals leases on state-owned mineral rights through a public competitive bid offering known as the Metallic Minerals Lease Sale.
What are Nonferrous Metallic Minerals?
The DNR has a longer history of leasing for ferrous minerals such as taconite and iron ore, however this webpage is focused on nonferrous metallic minerals leasing.
A state metallic minerals lease grants the lessee authority to explore and discover a mineral deposit but with certain conditions. The lessee is under lease terms that have conditions to help protect the public and environment (see lease form). Any exploration on state land requires the explorer to send an Exploration Plan to the DNR for approval before any exploration can begin. If a lessee does discover a mineral deposit, environmental review and mining permits are mandatory before mining can begin.
Metallic Minerals Lease Sale Rules
Leases need Executive Council approval
All state leases for nonferrous metallic minerals must be approved by the Executive Council (Minnesota Statutes, section 93.25, Subd. 2). The Executive Council consists of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general.
Why does the state lease its lands for mineral exploration?
First, is to support the goal of the Permanent School Trust Fund to secure the maximum long-term economic return from the School Trust Lands consistent with the fiduciary responsibilities imposed by the trust relationship established in the Minnesota Constitution, with sound natural resource conservation and management principles. Revenue earned from School Trust Lands goes into the Permanent School Trust Fund. Allowing private minerals exploration companies to explore on School Trust Lands supports that goal since minerals have generated 90% of the historic total revenue to the Permanent School Trust Fund. There are also fiduciary responsibilities to the university trust lands and the tax-forfeited lands.
Second reason, the state has an obligation to support Minnesota Statutes, section 93.001 which sets forth state policy to “provide for the diversification of the state's mineral economy through long-term support of mineral exploration, evaluation, environmental research, development, production, and commercialization.” With these reasons understood the state also has stringent rules concerning the potential environmental impacts of nonferrous metallic minerals development and exploration as stated in Minnesota Rules, Chapter 6132.
Lease Sale 2015
Provided below are resources related to the 2015 State Metallic Minerals Lease Sale.
Lease Sale 2015 News
June 22, 2015: DNR Press Release »
June 22, 2015: State Lands Being Considered for Metallic Minerals Leasing »
Lease Sale 2015 Statistics
Areas being considered for 2015 Lease Sale
Approximately 103,000 state-owned mineral acres are being considered for lease in 7 counties:
State lands being considered are grouped into 199 mining units:
Areas offered versus awarded leases
State leases and exploration drilling
The statistics above do not suggest future trends in public lease sales or exploration drilling.
Areas Under Consideration for Lease