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 2023, mineral exploration and mining on state-owned lands have generated $950 million. Revenue received from the state mineral leases is deposited into the appropriate fund or account based on land classification.
State Minerals Leasing Revenue 1890-2023 »

12 million acres of state mineral interests
The Lands and Minerals Division 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.16, 16B.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 four mineral types (iron ore/taconite, nonferrous metallic minerals, industrial, and residual).

Data on state mineral leasing

State mineral leasing as of January 2024

State lease typeActive leasesActive leases in acres
Iron ore/Taconite1089,166.45
Nonferrous Metallic14955,090.31

State peat leases

Peat is considered a surface interest rather than a mineral interest. Peat is an accumulation of organic residues from partial decomposition of plant debris under damp anaerobic conditions. Peat is used primarily as a valuable soil amendment and potting medium. State lands under the jurisdiction and control of the commissioner of natural resources may be leased for the harvesting and removal of peat. The leases are usually issued through negotiation, but may also be issued through public lease sales. Leases for the removal of peat that cover 320 or more acres must be approved by the State Executive Council. Leases for the removal of peat from tax-forfeited lands are issued by the counties. Minnesota Statutes, section 92.50 provides DNR the authority to lease state lands for the removal of peat. Reclamation authority is regulated under Minnesota Rules, chapter 6131. See the DNR's Mineland Reclamation Program webpage. There are 6 permitted peat mines with state leases.

GIS data of active and historic state peat leasing (current)

State peat leasing as of January 2024

State lease typeActive leasesActive leases in acres
Peat leases108,194.03

Construction aggregates

Similar to peat, state construction aggregate (sand and gravel or crushed stone) leases are considered a surface interest rather than a mineral interest. For more information on construction aggregates lease activity please consult the construction aggregate leases on state lands webpage. For other information, such as maps of construction aggregates or additional reference information see the DNR's Aggregate Resource Mapping Program webpage.

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