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 SPOKANE, Wash., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of thousands of miners in the United States are having second thoughts, the Northwest Mining Association announced today.
 Nearly two out of every three active mining claims have been dropped because of a new $100 annual holding fee. On Aug. 31, claimholders were forced to pay two years' fees from a newly enacted federal law.
 Many balked.
 More than 1 million active mining claims existed on public lands in western states in early 1992. By Sept. 1, 1993, those active claims had dwindled to only 295,000. Active claims for Washington and Oregon combined have dropped 62 percent from 37,000 to 14,000 since the holding fees were legislated last year. Preliminary reductions in other western states are 75 percent for Idaho, 58 percent for Arizona, 50 percent for Colorado, 80 percent for California, 53 percent for Nevada and 50 percent for Alaska.
 "The immediate effect is a major reduction in mineral claim development and loss of private exploration dollars to local, state and federal economies," said Bill Mote, executive director of the Northwest Mining Association. "The longer term loss is even more critical -- the lack of new discoveries of domestic mineral sources for our future needs."
 The federal mining law, which has been in place for more than a century, allows citizens to discover and mine valuable minerals on public lands that have been declared open to mining. The new $100 annual fee has forced small and large miners alike to reduce the number of claims they could explore.
 This fee doesn't just hit miners in the pocketbook, but affects all Americans. For example, fees from mining claim recordation have already dropped an estimated $40 million this year, meaning less money for the federal government.
 "When government loses one revenue source, they start looking for another to replace it," Mote said. "That could mean more taxes for all of us."
 Mote said attacks on the economic use of public lands are becoming more and more common.
 "The timber industry in the West is barely alive, and the ranchers on public lands are fighting off a demand to nearly triple grazing fees," Mote said. "Public water use limitations are also in the wind."
 In addition to the new holding fee, miners are facing a possible replacement of their century-old mining law.
 "The attitude of many eastern legislators parallels that of the extreme environmental activists who are trying to stop the economic use of our western public lands," Mote said. "It has become an issue of East versus West, and not all western delegations support their local economies."
 For example, a congressman from West Virginia, one of our biggest coal mining states, has introduced a bill, H.R. 322 which would make metal mining uneconomic in the United States. Another anti-mining legislator from Arkansas, when asked if he was concerned that American mining companies were moving overseas, quipped "adios" The mining industry has taken his reply and turned it into their rallying cry, "adios 322", referring to H.R. 322.
 While they oppose H.R. 322, miners see a Senate bill, S. 775, as workable. This bill was prepared by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The differences in the two bills will be resolved in a House-Senate conference committee, possibly by year end, Mote said.
 The Northwest Mining Association is a regional trade organization with approximately 3,000 members across North America who have an interest in the U.S. mining industry. It has been headquartered in Spokane, since 1895.
 -0- 9/28/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Mote of the Northwest Mining Association, 509-624-1158/

CO: Northwest Mining Association ST: Washington IN: MNG SU:

RB-JH -- SE012 -- 6592 09/28/93 19:11 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 28, 1993

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