Hardrock Homesteads: Free Access and the General Mining Law of 1872 Academic Article uri icon


  • Most discussions of the US General Mining Law of 1872 begin with the premise that the statute is an outdated relic of 19th-century attitudes towards resources and should be replaced with a modern system of royalties, permits and concessions.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.

author list (cited authors)

  • Morriss, A. P., Meiners, R. E., & Dorchak, A.

publication date

  • January 2006