Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Continuing Suspension of Annual Assessment Work on Mining Claims.

June 17, 1949

I HAVE today approved H.R. 1754, an act, "Providing for the suspension of annual assessment work on mining claims held by location in the United States and enlarging the liability for damages caused to stock raising and other homesteads by mining activities."

This act continues for one more year the wartime suspension of the requirement of section 2324 of the Revised Statutes (30 U.S.C. 28) requiring an expenditure of at least $100 in labor or improvements of a mining nature to be made each year on all mining claims located on the public lands of the United States. The act of May 3, 1943 (30 U.S.C. 28a) suspended this requirement during the period of hostilities. Under the terms of the 1943 statute, upon my proclamation of the cessation of hostilities on December 31, 1946, the assessment work provision again became effective as of 12 o'clock meridian on July 1, 1947, with the result that work of the worth of $100 was due to be performed during the assessment year ending on July 1, 1948. However, the act of June 17, 1948 (80th Congress) granted another 1-year extension expiring July 1, 1949.

While I have reluctantly approved another 1-year extension, I believe that any further extension of the suspension of the assessment work requirement would be detrimental to the public interest. The $100 requirement has appeared in the public domain mining laws since the enactment of the act of May 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 91). It was designed to prevent persons from hindering the development of the minerals in the public lands by making mining claims and then performing no work to develop them or to produce the minerals. In 1872, of course, $100 had a real value far greater than that possessed by the same sum today, and represented a considerable amount of work. However, the $100 requirement still is of importance, since it places upon the claimant the duty of undertaking at least some activity in order to hold his claim against later locators. Plainly, the chances are better that the mineral deposits of the public domain will be developed if some work is going forward on each claim than if nothing were being done. It is certainly in the public interest, in view of the present day shortage of minerals, that idleness on mineral claims be allowed no longer than is necessary.

During the war, when many men were in the service, when others were fully engaged in essential war work, and when tools and materials were being fully utilized in the war effort, it was proper to suspend the assessment work requirement. The shortages which motivated past suspensions, however, no longer prevail.

The basic policies of the mining laws and the interests of the Nation dictate that the assessment work requirement be revived as soon as possible in line with the intent of the act of May 3, 1943. These considerations also indicate the desirability of reevaluating the adequacy of the $100 figure at which this requirement has been set for so long, in the light of the fact that it now represents far less work than it did when it was adopted in 1872. Such related questions as the need for protecting fully the interests of owners of surface rights in lands affected by mining locations, the sufficiency of the legal provisions governing the recording of such locations, and the need for placing the obligation to perform assessment work on a basis where it can be better enforced than at present, also deserve reexamination.

It is noted that the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs is planning to undertake a study looking to a general revision and unification of the mining laws. It would seem appropriate to permit that study to proceed in orderly fashion and I would hope that such revisions as may be necessary and desirable will be accomplished without undue delay.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 1754 is Public Law 107 (63 Stat. 200).

Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Continuing Suspension of Annual Assessment Work on Mining Claims. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229559

Simple Search of Our Archives