Active State Minerals Leases

The State of Minnesota leases state-owned mineral interests and surface interests for minerals exploration and mining through public sales and negotiations. From 1890 through June 2012, mineral exploration and mining on state-owned lands have generated $525 million. Revenue received from the state mineral leases is deposited into the appropriate fund or account based on land classification. 
State Minerals Leasing Revenue 2005-2016 »

12 million acres of state mineral interests
The Division of Lands and Minerals manages approximately 12 million acres of state-owned mineral interests. The Division offers state mineral leases through public competitive lease auctions and negotiations. The issuance of a state mineral lease does not mean that the holder of the lease has the right to start a mining operation; the state mineral lease holder must comply with all the state’s mining regulations and environmental laws and obtain the permits needed to open a mine.

Managing state mineral interests for schools, university, and local government
State-owned minerals are managed for the benefit of the schools, the university, and local units of government. Minnesota’s minerals management policy is based on the Minnesota Constitution, Article XI, Section 8, and on the laws of the state, including Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 93 and Minnesota Statutes, sections 11A.1616B.286, and 127A.31, which have developed over more than a century of mineral exploration and mining. In summary, the minerals management policy of the state encourages private investors to take the risk to discover new mineral deposits, but mining may only occur if it can be done in an environmentally sound manner.

Approving state minerals leases

The State Executive Council (made up of the state’s five constitutional officers) provides “checks and balances”. Before a state mineral lease can be granted the State Executive Council must approve it. This includes taconite leases, nonferrous metallic mineral leases, industrial mineral leases greater than 160 acres and peat leases greater than 320 acres. 
State Executive Council »

Minerals lease types
The State of Minnesota has grouped minerals into five distinct minerals types described below in the slideshow (iron ore/taconite, nonferrous metallic minerals, industrial, peat, and residual).




Reports and data on state mineral leasing


Table: State minerals leasing as of July 1, 2017

State Lease Type Active leases Active leases in acres
Iron ore/Taconite 110 9,552.71
Nonferrous Metallic Minerals 274 99,332.55
Industrial Minerals 9 3,919.19
Peat Minerals 9 3,690.45
Residue Minerals 8 1,795.59
Total 410 118,290.49


Please note that state construction aggregate (sand and gravel or crushed stone) leases are not included in the above state minerals leases report because they are considered a surface interest rather than a mineral interest. For more information on construction aggregates a DNR webpage focused on construction aggregate leases on state lands shows locations of current and past construction aggregates/earth materials leased sites, as well as future leasing opportunities. For other information, such as maps of construction aggregates or additional reference information see the DNR's Aggregate Resource Mapping Program webpage.