State Nonferrous Leasing

Nonferrous Metallic Minerals

State Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Leasing
Public Lease Sale

Lease Sale Bid Results
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources held its 35th non-ferrous metallic minerals lease sale on June 9, 2017. Five companies submitted bids on mining units in Beltrami, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods and St. Louis Counties. Of the 195,324 acres offered for lease, 112,585 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. A web map is also available that displays the bid results.
Bid Information Summary »
Web map »

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 DNR expects to bring the leases to the Executive Council for consideration at its meeting on September 8, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. in Room G23 Senate Committee Room, State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul, MN.

The DNR is accepting written comments from the public specific to the bidders and properties bid upon until 4:30 p.m. on July 10, 2017. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to or may be mailed to:
MM Lease Sale
DNR Division of Lands and Minerals
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Any comments received from members of the public are classified as public data.


Since 1966 the DNR has offered nonferrous metallic mineral 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?
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, niobium.


A state metallic mineral lease grants the lessee authority to explore for 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 »
(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 »

2017 Lease Sale

More Lease Sale Information Below:
Click each topic below to expand.
Click again to hide.

Past News

DNR Press Release on May 8, 2017: DNR to hold Metallic Mineral Lease Sale  »

Notice of Sale » PDF

Notice of Intent to Hold Sale » PDF

DNR Press Release on January 30, 2017: State Lands Being Considered for Metallic Mineral Leasing  »


2017 lease sale bid information summary
Bid Information Summary »

Areas offered for lease in 2017 lease sale
Approximately 195,324 state-owned mineral acres were offered for lease in 5 counties:

  • Beltrami: 560 acres / 3 mining units
  • Itasca: 95,614 acres / 233 mining units
  • Koochiching: 47,143 acres / 112 mining units
  • Lake of the Woods: 25,447 acres / 58 mining units
  • St. Louis: 26,560  acres / 100 mining units

Mining Units
State lands being offered are grouped into 506 mining units.
What is a Mining Unit?  »

  • 54% have been leased before
  • 99.8% have been offered in past public lease sales
  • 34% of the lands offered are School Trust Lands
  • 49% of the lands offered are Tax-Forfeited Lands

Areas offered versus awarded leases

  • On average 8% of the areas offered for lease in 34 public lease sales became leases.
  • On average 10% of the areas offered for lease in the last 5 public lease sales became leases.

State leases and exploration drilling

  • Only 2.2% of state leased parcels have had exploration drilling. This is according to a DNR analysis of data between 1966-2016.
    Learn more

The statistics above do not suggest future trends in public lease sales or exploration drilling.

Bid Results Web Map

The state lands that were offered for lease in the 2017 lease sale are listed in the Mining Unit Book as well as shown on an interactive web map.
Final Mining Unit Book » PDF
Bid Information Summary » PDF
Interactive Web Map »

Public Input Received

The list of lands being offered for lease was available for public input from January 30, 2017 through March 31, 2017. The DNR received four letters via email. They are posted here in a compressed zip file:
Public Input (.zip) »

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: 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.
Click each topic below to expand.
Click again to hide.

Lease Sale Process 

The DNR has revised the metallic mineral lease sale process as well as the land use screening criteria. Provided below is a presentation, fact sheet, and document detailing the revised process and land use screening criteria.

Presentation » PDF

Fact sheet » PDF

Land use screening » PDF

Lease Sale FAQs

The fact sheet below features a number of questions and answers about nonferrous metallic minerals leasing, exploration, and regulation.

FAQ fact sheet » PDF

Leasing History

History of State Nonferrous Metallic Minerals Leasing  » PDF

History of State Leasing and Public Lease Sales for Nonferrous Metallic Minerals (1966-2016):

  • Chart: Public Lease Sales- Offered and Awarded » PDF
  • Chart: Active Leases » PDF
  • Chart: Terminated Leases » PDF
  • Download Slideshow: Active and Terminated State Leasing maps from from 1966-2016  »

Why does the state lease its minerals?
The state leases its minerals on school trust lands to fulfill its fiduciary obligation to raise revenue for the Permanent School Fund. Minerals have generated about 80% of the historic total revenue to the Permanent School Fund. The state also has fiduciary responsibilities to raise revenues for the Permanent University Fund and the taxing districts and meets those responsibilities by leasing minerals on university trust lands and minerals acquired by the state through tax forfeiture.

The leasing of state-owned minerals supports the state’s 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.”
Minnesota Statutes section 93.001. »