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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

DNR to hold metallic minerals lease sale Bid opening Nov. 16

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is initiating the sale of leases for state-owned metallic minerals. Areas offered for lease are in Aitkin, Carlton, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching and St. Louis counties and total 88,572 acres. 

The notice of sale, mining unit book containing the sale areas, interactive Web maps and other information are available on the DNR's website, www.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/leasesale/index.html

The lease sale involves nonferrous minerals, which are all metals except iron ore and taconite.  Examples of nonferrous metallic minerals are: copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold, silver, cobalt, chromium, zinc, lead, bismuth, tin, tungsten, tantalum and niobium.

The DNR published a list of potential lease areas on June 22. Based on public input, company interest and other factors, the agency removed 13,474 acres in St. Louis and Cass counties from the lease sale.

Under Minnesota law, the DNR is charged with managing state-owned minerals for exploration and development. Revenue from the metallic mineral leases benefits public schools, local taxing districts, and the state's general fund. This is the 34th sale of leases for state-owned metallic metals.

Companies interested in submitting bids may obtain bid forms and instructions by contacting the DNR's Lands and Minerals Division, 651-259-5959. Sealed bids must be submitted before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. A public bid opening will take place Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. in the lobby of the DNR's Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul. 
 
The DNR will then review all bids and notify potentially affected landowners. Notifications will go to the surface rights owners of parcels that attract bids. The DNR will help these landowners understand what leasing might mean for them and their rights as surface owners.  

Based on the bids received and evaluation of the bidders' qualifications, the DNR will prepare a recommendation for the state's Executive Council for consideration at its March 2016 meeting. The council -- comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor -- will make final decisions about whether to approve the leases. 

A lease does not automatically grant the leaseholder permission to mine. Before a state-owned parcel can be mined, the leaseholder must comply with all legal requirements for environmental review and permitting. These same standards apply to nonstate minerals. 

Most state metallic minerals leases end within five years. Historically, only about two percent of areas under state metallic minerals leases have had one or more exploratory borings. Prior to any exploratory activity, leaseholders must submit a minerals exploration plan to the DNR, which then imposes any restrictions deemed necessary to limit impacts to resources and property owners. 

The sale notice will be published in the EQB Monitor and State Register Oct. 12. For the next several weeks, newspapers in the counties where the leases are being offered will also be publishing the notice.

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