DNR's role in the State nonferrous metallic minerals lease sale


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?
Nonferrous metallic minerals refers to all metals except iron ore and taconite. The metallic minerals state lease category includes elements such as copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold, silver, cobalt, chromium, zinc, lead, bismuth, tin, tungsten, tantalum, or niobium.

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
(MN Rules, parts 6125.0100 to .0700)

Exploration Plans and Regulations


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.

Executive Council Approval


Why does the state lease its lands for mineral exploration?
There are two primary reasons why the state grants leases of its mineral rights:

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.
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Lease Sale 2015 News - UPDATED

Lease Sale 2015 Statistics

Areas Under Consideration for Lease
(Draft Mining Unit Book) and Web Map

Public Input

Lease Sale Process, FAQs, & History

Learn about DNR's Metallic Minerals Lease Sale and more about nonferrous metallic minerals exploration and regulations.
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Revised Lease Sale Process 

Lease Sale FAQs

Leasing History