Congressional auditors say the U.S. government reaps billions of dollars in royalties annually from fossil fuels extracted from federal lands and waters, yet it does not collect any money from gold, uranium or other metals mined from these same places.
A Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday found the federal government doesn't know how much these hard rock mines produce from public lands in the 12 western states where most mining occurs.
There is no federal law requiring companies to disclose how much those mines produce.
Two lawmakers hope public concerns over the economy will reinvigorate a movement to reform the General Mining Act of 1872, which exempted mining companies from paying royalties.
The mining industry says it already pays billions in taxes from mines on state and private lands.