Saleable minerals are subject to the Materials Act of 1947, as amended. Mineral materials are some of our most basic natural resources, such as sand, gravel, dirt, and rock used in every day building and other construction uses. These materials generally are bulky and have low unit price. Their sheer weight makes their transportation costs very high. Adequate local supplies of these basic resources are vital to the economy of any community.
The BLM's policy is to make these materials available to the public and local governmental agencies whenever possible and wherever environmentally acceptable. The BLM shares a portion of the revenues from the sale of mineral materials with the State where the minerals are produced.
New Mexico Statistics
BLM-New Mexico manages sales and free use of mineral materials on public lands in New Mexico. In 2013, we sold nearly 2 million cubic yards of material with a value of $4.7 million. Material provided to government entities under free use permits amounted to over 150 thousand cubic yards valued at about $420,000.
By far, the commodity with the largest volume and value was caliche, which is used extensively in southeastern New Mexico by the oil and gas industry to construct well pads and roads, as well as local governments for road construction. Second was sand and gravel, which is used mainly for the production of asphalt for road construction, and concrete for use in residential and commercial construction. Third was volcanic cinder, which is used in landscaping and drainage, and in the manufacture of lightweight block and gas grills.
The following table shows the volume and value of the major mineral material commodities sold, or permitted under free use, by BLM-New Mexico in fiscal year 2013.
Sand and Gravel
How Mineral Materials are Disposed
The BLM makes mineral materials located on public lands, such as sand, gravel, crushed stone, decorative stone, clay, and pumice available under the authority of the Materials Act of 1947. This law authorizes the BLM to sell mineral materials to the public at fair market value, and give them for free to States, counties, or other government entities for public projects. Also, a limited amount may be provided for free to non-profit groups. Materials obtained free of charge cannot be bartered or sold.
Mineral material disposals fall into two major categories: exclusive and non-exclusive. Exclusive disposals are generally large volume, long term sales where the purchaser has an exclusive right to the materials and sole responsibility for the development and reclamation of the disposal site or a designated portion of the site. Non-exclusive disposals are made from sites to which the general public has access and more than one party has a right to remove materials. Non-exclusive disposals are generally low volume and short term. There are two types of non-exclusive disposal sites: community pits and common use areas. The distinction between the two is that common use areas are broad geographic areas from which materials can be removed with insignificant surface disturbance and do not require reclamation. Purchases of materials from community pits and common use areas can generally made over-the-counter at the BLM field office having jurisdiction over the site.
There is no specific application form for requesting removal of mineral materials from public lands. Persons interested in buying mineral materials should contact the local BLM District or Resource Area office closest to the area of need or closest to the public land where the desired material is found. Regulations which guide BLM's mineral materials program are found in Title 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Group 3600. Regulations governing contracts and permits for mineral materials are contained in Title 43 CFR, Subparts 3610 and 3620, respectively.
The BLM can sell mineral materials on a competitive or non-competitive basis. Competitive sales have a maximum initial contract term of 10 years, but there is no limitation on the quantity, and BLM may issue contracts that can be renewed for additional 10 year terms. Non-competitive sales have a maximum contract term of 5 years, a limit of 200,000 cubic yards (or weight equivalent) per contract, and a maximum total quantity of 300,000 cubic yards (or weight equivalent) for all contracts issued to any one entity, in any one state, in any 12-month period.
There is no limit on the quantity of such a disposal to governmental entities, but the permit has a maximum term of 10 years. The BLM may issue free use permits to non-profit organizations for not more than 5,000 cubic yards per year. The public can collect small quantities of petrified wood (25 pounds per day plus one piece, up to a maximum of 250 pounds per year) for free without a permit. Quantities in excess of these amounts require purchase at fair market value under a sales contract.