Mining Performance Metrics

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the nation’s largest land manager, responsible for roughly 245 million acres of public land and 700 million acres of federal mineral estate. Of the multiple uses BLM manages across these acres, the agency is responsible for the timely and efficient permitting of appropriate mineral exploration and development work. The BLM reviews plans for exploration and mining development, supports environmental reviews, ensures safe mining operations, and ensures mine sites are reclaimed when operations cease.

As required by Section 40206 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the BLM is seeking public comment on a set of draft performance metrics that will help measure success in the timely and effective permitting of mineral exploration and development projects on BLM-managed public lands and minerals. These metrics, found below, are intended to ensure the BLM is efficiently permitting appropriate projects. Although not required by Section 40206, the BLM is also developing performance metrics to assess engagement with and outcomes for Tribes and communities that may be affected by mining projects.

The comment period for the proposed metrics closed on April 29, 2024.

BLM Draft Mining Performance Measures

1. Percentage of operators that engage in pre-plan submittal coordination with the BLM.

Measure Scope: The Department of the Interior’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) report (issued on September 12, 2023) recommended that the BLM more formally encourage pre-plan submittal meetings as a tool to encourage coordination, cooperation, and early engagement across all levels of government, including Tribal governments. The BLM is contemplating recording when an operator chooses to participate in the pre-plan meeting coordination process.

Measurement Process: The local BLM Field Office will record in the Administrative Record when an operator requests a pre-plan submittal meeting, prior to submitting their plan of operations.

Data Source(s): The BLM will capture this data in its Mineral and Land Records System (MLRS). Each pre-plan submittal meeting would be captured as a single data point with the date of the meeting.

2. Percentage of milestones met from the mining pre-plan coordination agreements.

Measure Scope: As part of implementing the pre-plan submittal coordination process, the BLM is proposing to implement a series of milestones with defined timelines. For example, if a conceptual plan requires completion of background studies to aid in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, several milestones could be developed to track the time required to conduct and review the studies. By bracketing each milestone with an anticipated completion date, the BLM can demonstrate whether the pre-plan submittal and plan processing is staying on track.

Measurement Process: Early in the pre-plan submittal process, the BLM will work with the operator in describing the anticipated permitting process along with establishing milestones with reasonable timelines for completion. The BLM will document the established milestones and actual completion dates in the Administrative Record.

Data Source(s): This data will be recorded in the BLM’s Administrative Record and captured in its Mineral and Land Records System (MLRS)

3. Median time to complete National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reviews for mining plans.

Measure Scope: The BLM is proposing establishing performance metrics for completing its review under the National Environmental Policy Act for plans of operations. The time necessary to complete the process will vary by the level of NEPA deemed necessary.

Measurement Process: The BLM will record when the NEPA process starts and when the NEPA decision and authorization to proceed is signed for each plan of operations.

Data Source(s): The BLM tracks start and completion dates of NEPA action within the BLM National NEPA Register.