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?
A state metallic mineral 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.
2015 Lease Sale
Further information related to the lease sale is provided under the tabs below.
2015 Lease Sale News as of 3/2/16
On March 2, 2016, the Minnesota State Executive Council approved issuance of 43 leases to three companies that submitted bids at the state’s November 16, 2015 nonferrous metallic minerals lease sale. The Executive Council approved issuance of:
Four other valid bids submitted at the lease sale were withdrawn by the bidder before the March 2, 2016 Executive Council meeting. Further information about the approved leases is shown on the interactive web map.
For archived Metallic Minerals Lease Sale news please visit the Lands and Minerals News webpage.
Lease sale related notices were posted on the following dates:
2015 Lease Sale Statistics
Executive Council Approved Leases
-43 leases approved by the State's Executive Council covering 16,348.69 acres.
-3 companies awarded leases (AngloGold Ashanti Minnesota, Inc., Encampment Minerals, Inc., and Kennecott Exploration Company)
-Leases are located in 3 counties (Aitkin, Koochiching, and St. Louis)
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 March 3, 2016)
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.email@example.com 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 (1966-2016):
Learn more about nonferrous metallic minerals at the following DNR webpages and documents:
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.