RELEASE: Foreign-Owned Mining Companies Take Advantage of Outdated Laws, Reap Benefits at Expense of U.S. Taxpayers

Washington, D.C. – Foreign-owned mining companies are taking advantage of outdated laws that let them operate on U.S. public lands and mine taxpayer-owned minerals for free, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.

The analysis found that most of the companies mining for gold and uranium in the United States are foreign owned, bringing their profits overseas while leaving local communities with a legacy of toxic waste. A review of public records shows that 100 percent of the companies producing uranium in the United States and 64 percent of companies producing gold in this country are foreign owned.

“It’s absurd that a 147-year-old mining law is still on the books, resulting in the giveaway of taxpayer-owned resources to foreign-owned mining companies for free,” said Nicole Gentile, author of the report and deputy director for Public Lands at CAP. “It’s past time to overhaul how the hardrock mining industry is governed to ensure communities aren’t left holding the bag on toxic pollution.”

The analysis comes as the Nuclear Fuel Working Group is expected to issue a report that recommends increasing uranium mining in the United States. CAP’s findings underscore that an increase in uranium mining in the United States would further enrich foreign mining firms that benefit from the country’s antiquated mining laws at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

The major flaws in the General Mining Act of 1872 include allowing companies to take metals and other minerals from public lands for free; exposing nearby communities and rivers to perpetual toxic waste; and leaving tribes and land managers no meaningful opportunity for input.

Revisions to the law should require mining companies to pay royalties and protect cultural, iconic, and ecologically sensitive lands from hardrock mining. Updates should also require mining companies to pay for abandoned mine cleanup and require meaningful inspection and enforcement actions.

Read the report: “Multinational Mining Corporations Are Exploiting U.S. Taxpayers: Outdated Mining Laws Allow Foreign Companies to Mine U.S. Public Lands for Free” by Nicole Gentile

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202-478-6327.