Solid Minerals in the Northeastern States Field Office


The primary mission of the Bureau of Land Management in the Eastern U.S is the management of minerals. The Bureau issues prospecting permits, leases, exploration licenses and oversees operations for all Federally owned mineral estates regardless of surface ownership.  Most of the Federal minerals in the east are under National Forest lands administered by the USDA Forest Service.  Some Federal mineral holdings underlie surface owned by the Department of Defense or local or state governments. Policy and procedures require environmental analysis and surface-owner consultation prior to all permitting or leasing activities.


Northeastern States Field Offices’s solid-minerals operations are located in the Rolla, Missouri Resource Office. The Rolla office is responsible for the assessment of solid-mineral resources and the supervision of solid mineral resource exploration, development, and production on Federal mineral lands within Northeastern States Field Offices’s twenty-state jurisdictional boundary.


For information about current projects managed by the Rolla office, contact:

Bureau of Land Management

401 Fairgrounds Road

Rolla, MO    64501

The BLM Rolla office is staffed by:

Timothy Howell, Mining Engineer,  (573) 341-7435

Matthew Silvey, Geologist, (573) 341-7418

 All current mineral development activities occur on acquired mineral lands administered under the 43 CFR 3500 (Hardrock Minerals and Potassium) and the 43 CFR 3400 (Coal) regulations.  The location of mining claims under the 1872 mining law is not allowed in the Northeastern States Field Office nor are there any solid mineral development activities on Indian lands here.

The Rolla office was established in 1972 as part of the U.S Geological Survey’s Conservation Division to oversee all federal solid-mineral activities in the eastern part of the U.S. In 1983, the USGS Conservation Division and its functions were merged with the Bureau of Land Management. 

 Rolla is a town of 16,000 people located approximately 100 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri on the northern flanks of the Ozarks.  Rolla hosts, in addition to the Bureau of Land Management office, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, U.S. Geological Survey Mid-Continent Mapping Center and Water Resources Division Missouri State Office, U.S. Bureau of Mines Rolla Research Center, Mark Twain National Forest Supervisor's Office, Missouri State Geological and Land Survey Division Office, and U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration District Office. 

 The following is a brief description of those areas within the Northeastern States Field Office, Solid Minerals program which constitute the preponderance of our workload.       

Missouri lead/zinc mining


The major area of activity is lead/zinc mining in the Viburnum Trend mining district, which is located entirely within the Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri.  This world-class mining district contains the largest domestic lead reserves, and also produces zinc, copper, silver, cadmium, and cobalt. 

Galena, Lead oreGalena, Lead ore


The district produces 90% of domestic primary lead, 65% of which is from 36 federal leases, which cover 33,600 acres of national forest land. Of the 36 federal leases, 18 are producing.  Six producing mines paid about $10 million in royalties last year and the district has paid about $160 million in royalties since 1960. Additionally, there are currently seven prospecting permits present on the Mark Twain Forest.  It is anticipated that at least one Preference Right Lease Application (PRLA) will be submitted by the permittee within the next year, or so, as a result of the drilling which has occurred on these properties. 


Minnesota and Michigan  base and precious metals exploration and industrial minerals




Exploration for copper, gold, zinc, platinum, palladium, and other metals in the northern national forests within MFO’s jurisdiction has been intense during the last 5 to10 years.  The area of greatest interest has been the geologic terrane of the Duluth Complex on the Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Presently, there are 2 Preference Right Leases, 3 prospecting permits, 25 prospecting permit applications and 1 preference right lease application totaling about 45,000 acres.  However, about a year ago, it came to the attention of the U.S. Forest Service and BLM, that the Superior National Forest Plan, a document from which the two agencies had been issuing prospecting permits for twenty years, was inadequate from a NEPA standpoint to justify permit issuance or authorize exploration activities by the industry.   As a result, there has been a temporary halt in the federal program for issuing prospecting permits and for authorizing exploration on prospecting permits and leases.  The Superior National Forest is discussing the prospects of preparing an EIS to address exploration activities on their forest. The BLM will be a cooperating agency in the process.

In May of 2003, Fairmount Minerals made application for a competitive lease covering approximately 320 acres of Federal land on the Huron-Manistee Forest in Michigan. The mineral commodity under application is an uncommon variety of sand used by the automotive industry for engine castings. The chemical composition for foundry-sand resources must contain the right proportions of silica and iron and aluminum oxides so that their thermal properties do not adversely affect the casting process. 

West Virginia coal lease applications

 Argus Energy LLC (Argus) has submitted a coal LBA (WVES-50556) to BLM for 7,624.60 acres bordering a portion of the southern shore of the East Lynn Lake Project in Wayne County, West Virginia.  Rockspring Development (Rockspring) also submitted an LBA for 5,449.92 acres (WVES-50560) that borders a portion of the north shore of the lake. Both companies propose to mine the Federal coal under their respective lease application areas by underground methods. This would be accomplished by Argus and Rockspring cutting drifts from their existing, adjacent underground mines located on private land. Argus would access the Federal reserves from the south and Rockspring from the north.  No surface mining would occur.  Before any coal lease can be granted, coal-mining issues will be analyzed in a Land Use Analysis/Environmental Impact Statement (LUA/EIS) paid for by the applicants through a third party contract.  By letters dated June 29, 2006 and July 14, 2006 from Argus Energy and Rockspring Development, respectively, both companies accepted BLM's selection of Golder and Associates to prepare the LUA/EIS.  Individual contracts between Golder and each company were signed on September 20, 2006, legally acknowledging Golder as the preparing contractor of the LUA/EIS at East Lynn Lake.  In October of 2006, the East Lynn Lake EIS project was officially launched with the holding of a Kickoff Meeting at East Lynn, West Virginia.

On The Horizon:


This office expects the Doe Run Company of Missouri to submit Preference Right Lease Applications on at least one of their prospecting permits on the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.  We also anticipate renewed and accelerated exploration activity on the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota at the completion of the proposed exploration EIS.  This office believes that as soon as the NEPA documentation is met on that forest, the BLM will receive additional PRLA’s for leasing and eventually mining.