Since 1966 the DNR has offered nonferrous metallic minerals leases on state-owned mineral rights through a public competitive sealed 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 on the ground 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.
2015 Lease Sale
The 2015 state nonferrous metallic minerals lease sale was held on November 16, 2015 at 9:00am. Four companies submitted bids on 47 mining units in Aitkin, Itasca, Koochiching and St. Louis Counties. Of the 88,572 acres offered for lease, 17,737 (20%) received bids. A list of the companies, the mining units bid upon and the amount of each bid is posted in the Bid Information Summary Document.
Further information related to the lease sale is provided under the tabs below.
2015 Lease Sale News
November 16, 2015: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources held its 34th non-ferrous metallic minerals lease sale on November 16, 2015. Four companies submitted bids on 47 mining units in Aitkin, Itasca, Koochiching and St. Louis Counties. Of the 88,572 acres offered for lease, 17,737 (20%) received bids. A list of the companies, the mining units bid upon and the amount of each bid is posted posted in the Bid Information Summary Document.
Following its review of the bids and bidder qualifications, the DNR will prepare a report and recommendation to the State’s Executive Council about the leases. The State’s Executive Council, comprised of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor, will decide whether to approve the leases. The Executive Council is currently expected to consider the leases at its meeting on March 2, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 106 of the Minnesota State Board of Investment, Retirement Systems Building, 60 Empire Drive, St. Paul, MN 55103.
The DNR is accepting written comments from the public specific to the bidders and properties bid upon until 4:30 p.m. on December 16, 2015. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to MMLeaseSale.email@example.com or may be mailed to:
MM Lease Sale
Any comments received from members of the public are classified as public data.
For archived Metallic Minerals Lease Sale news please visit the Lands and Minerals News webpage:
2015 Lease Sale Statistics
2015 Lease Sale Bid Results
Data and statistics on the 47 submitted bids are available in the DNR Bid Information Summary Document (.pdf).
Archived data on lands offered in the 2015 Lease Sale
Approximately 88,572 state-owned mineral acres within 177 mining units were offered for lease in 6 counties:
Other information on state lands that were offered for lease:
State leases and exploration drilling
The statistics above do not suggest future trends in public lease sales or exploration drilling.
Final Mining Unit Book and Web Map (map updated 11.16.2015)
Public Input Archived
The list of lands were available for public input from June 22, 2015 through August 24, 2015. The public input received on the areas under consideration for the next state Metallic Minerals Lease Sale is available for viewing. The DNR received 470 letters via email and U.S. mail. DNR staff compiled the public input into PDF documents, but no other changes were made in the documents as submitted. The documents are posted online for public review in a compressed zip file. You can access these documents by going to the DNR's Metallic Mineral Lease Sale Public Input webpage:
The documents are available in alternative formats. The documents are also available for viewing in the DNR Central Office in St. Paul. Please contact us at: MMLeaseSale.firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-259-5959 if you would like to view the documents or would like them in an alternative format.
Lease Sale Process, FAQs, & History
Learn about DNR's Metallic Minerals Lease Sale and more about nonferrous metallic minerals exploration and regulations.
Lease Sale Process
Lease Sale FAQs
The fact sheet below features a number of questions and answers about nonferrous metallic minerals leasing, exploration, and regulation.
History of State Leasing and Public Lease Sales for Nonferrous Metallic Minerals(1966-2014):
Learn more about nonferrous metallic minerals at the following DNR webpages and documents: