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.
Lease Sale 2015
The 2015 State Metallic Minerals Lease Sale is scheduled for November 16, 2015 at 9:00am. Information related to the upcoming lease sale is provided under the tabs below.
Lease Sale 2015 News
October 7, 2015: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is initiating the sale of leases for state-owned metallic minerals. Areas offered for lease are in Aitkin, Carlton, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching and St. Louis counties and total 88,572 acres.
The lease sale involves nonferrous minerals, which are all metals except iron ore and taconite. Examples of nonferrous metallic minerals are: copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold, silver, cobalt, chromium, zinc, lead, bismuth, tin, tungsten, tantalum and niobium.
The DNR published a list of potential lease areas on June 22. Based on public input, company interest and other factors, the agency removed 13,474 acres in St. Louis and Cass counties from the lease sale.
Under Minnesota law, the DNR is charged with managing state-owned minerals for exploration and development. Revenue from the metallic mineral leases benefits public schools, local taxing districts, and the state's general fund. This is the 34th sale of leases for state-owned metallic metals.
Companies interested in submitting bids may obtain bid forms and instructions by contacting the DNR's Lands and Minerals Division, 651-259-5959. Sealed bids must be submitted before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. A public bid opening will take place Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. in the lobby of the DNR's Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
The DNR will then review all bids and notify potentially affected landowners. Notifications will go to the surface rights owners of parcels that attract bids. The DNR will help these landowners understand what leasing might mean for them and their rights as surface owners.
Based on the bids received and evaluation of the bidders' qualifications, the DNR will prepare a recommendation for the state's Executive Council for consideration at its March 2016 meeting. The council -- comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor -- will make final decisions about whether to approve the leases.
A lease does not automatically grant the leaseholder permission to mine. Before a state-owned parcel can be mined, the leaseholder must comply with all legal requirements for environmental review and permitting. These same standards apply to nonstate minerals.
Most state metallic minerals leases end within five years. Historically, only about two percent of areas under state metallic minerals leases have had one or more exploratory borings. Prior to any exploratory activity, leaseholders must submit a minerals exploration plan to the DNR, which then imposes any restrictions deemed necessary to limit impacts to resources and property owners.
The sale notice will be published in the EQB Monitor and State Register Oct. 12. For the next several weeks, newspapers in the counties where the leases are being offered will also be publishing the notice.
DNR Notice of Lease Sale (pdf)
For archived Metallic Minerals Lease Sale news please visit the Lands and Minerals News webpage:
Lease Sale 2015 Statistics
Lands being offered for the 2015 Lease Sale
Approximately 88,572 state-owned mineral acres within 177 mining units are being offered for lease in 6 counties:
More information on state lands being offered for lease:
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.
Lands Offered for Lease