Minerals - Mining Regulation
The program also manages the state endowment lands mineral estate, which covers three million acres. The program also manages the Idaho public trust lands mineral estate. The public trust lands consist of the beds of Idaho's navigable rivers and lakes.
Surface Mining is the extraction of minerals or mineral materials from the ground by utilizing surface mining or strip mining methods. In Idaho, minerals mined by this method include decorative stone, sand and gravel, phosphate, molybdenum, gold, silver and others. The Surface Mining Act, passed in 1971, was designed to require reclamation of affected lands and return them to a productive condition.
Placer and dredge mining is the extraction of minerals from an alluvial or glacial deposit, as of sand and gravel, containing particles of gold or other valuable minerals. A placer deposit can be in a natural watercourse or an ancient river channel high above a stream. The Idaho Placer and Dredge Mining Protection Act was passed as an initiative vote in 1954. Over the years several changes have been made, but the basic components of the 1954 Act still stand.
Exploration is the activity performed to locate mineral bodies and to determine their mineability and merchantability [Idaho Code § 47-1503(8)]. All state lands, endowment lands and navigable waters are open for casual exploration unless they have been withdrawn [Idaho Code § 47-702(1)].