AGS Meeting: The Genesis of Mining Law

John Lacy, Attorney and Professor at the Rogers School of Law, University of Arizona

Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites
5151 East Grant Road, Tucson
(The hotel is on Rosemont, north of Grant, just north of the International House of Pancakes.)

Lecture at 8:00 PM
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Special Meal Deal for Students! Dinner is FREE for students who make a reservation on-line at the website below. Please bring a student ID with you. ($10 without a reservation.) Note: AGS is pleased to provide free meals for student members with an on-line dinner reservation.

SCHEDULE: CASH BAR @ 6:00 PM, DINNER @ 7.00 PM, TALK @ 8:00 PM. WITH RESERVATION: MEMBER = $27.00, GUEST = $30.00.  If you do not have a reservation, an extra $3.00 will be charged. Also, without reservations you may not get dinner. To make dinner reservations please call the AGS answering machine at (520) 663-5295 or reserve online by 11 AM on the Thursday, May 1, before the meeting. If calling, leave name, number of attendees, and whether a vegetarian or low-salt meal is required. This number can also be used for field-trip reservations and leaving messages for Society officers. Please cancel your reservation via the answering machine if you find that you will be unable to attend.


The “Mining Law of 1872” has been much maligned as being “ancient,” “out of date,” and “in need of modernization.”  In fact, governmental systems of regulation of private mineral development can be traced to Greek and Roman precedents and what became the mining laws of the United States reflect a reliance of private initiative that is almost unmatched in the world.  Mr. Lacy’s thesis is that the modern criticisms of this law reflect arguments for imposition of law that the laws of the United States were designed to avoid.  This presentation will trace the roots of mining law from an ancient genesis, through the development of tribal traditions of the “free miners” of medieval Europe and the importation of Saxon/English and Iberian systems into the New World.  Once in the Americas, traditions of private custom and regal systems combined into the ordinances and practices in the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru, then into the mining camps of the California gold fields and the Comstock Lode and finally were incorporated into the mining laws of the United States.  The presentation will try to isolate those portions of the mining laws of the United States that reflect a basic policy of encouraging mineral development from those portions of the law that are rightfully criticized as being archaic.

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