Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law




Most discussions of the US General Mining Law of 1872 begin with the premise that the statute is an outdated relic of 19th-century attitudes towards resources and should be replaced with a modern system of royalties, permits and concessions. In contrast, this article argues that the statute provides institutional mechanisms that resolve incentive problems created by government ownership of mineral resources. Instead of calling for radical change in US mining laws, the authors hold up the free access principle of the General Mining Law of 1872 as a model for privatisation of assets whose value is unknown.

First Page


Volume Number



Taylor & Francis

Included in

Law Commons


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.