Improvements in Department of the Interior Leasing of Potential Aluminum Resources Are Necessary for More Timely Decisionmaking.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC ENERGY AND MINERALS DIV
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Excessive and unnecessary delays in processing alunite prospecting permit and preference right lease applications in several western states have frustrated development of a potential domestic aluminum resource. Exploration and development of such leasable nonfuel minerals as alunite cannot occur without Government approval. Thus, to allow inaction without formulating alternative means of allowing exploration and development automatically means there will be little or no activity. As the Department noted in responding to the results of our review, the Bureau of Land Management must coordinate adjudication and processing of mineral leasing activities with such surface management agencies as the Forest Service. The Department recognizes that, in such cases, the Bureau has less control in scheduling field examinations and environmental analysis. Further, the Department stated that, in some cases, permitees themselves do not aggressively pursue or react diligently to leasing requirements for economic, budgetary, or other internal reasons. The point is well taken--not all delay is attributable to Government slowness or indecision alone. This point should not, however, lead to a generalized assumption that unresponsiveness from any of the parties involved should be allowed to continue unchecked. We believe that neither lack of Government responsiveness nor insufficient permitee diligence should tie up disposition of valuable resources indefinitely, as appears to have been the case with alunite.
- Metallurgy and Metallography