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Is mining allowed in wilderness?

The Wilderness Act of 1964, and subsequent wilderness legislation, withdraws lands in designated wilderness from appropriation under the mining and mineral leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights. Prior to designation as wilderness, mining claims may have been made on public lands. Mining operations may continue after designation, subject to strict regulation to protect wilderness characteristics. Holders of valid mineral leases retain the rights granted by the terms and conditions of the specific leases. Holders of valid mining claims are allowed to conduct operations necessary for the development, production, and processing of the mineral resource. Mechanical transport, motorized equipment, and access to utility corridors may be used after a determination that they are the minimum necessary. However, these activities and the reclamation of all disturbed lands must minimize the impact on the surrounding wilderness character.



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