Competitive Leasing of OCS Marine Minerals

Under 30 CFR Part 581, any person, entity, or company can request that OCS marine minerals be offered for lease. BOEM may offer the minerals for lease under a competitive system and hold a lease sale. BOEM may lease sand and gravel aggregate, strategic minerals like gold, or other critical minerals, like rare earth elements.

Competitive leasing chart

Note that following a lease sale, leases issued must be developed under the terms of the lease. Most exploration, testing, development, or production activities can only occur after a lessee submits a plan to do so and that plan is approved by BOEM. Delineation, testing, and mining plans must be submitted to and approved by BOEM prior to mining operations.

Commercial grade heavy minerals, strategic minerals, and aggregate exist across the OCS. Offshore mineral deposits in deeper water, such as manganese nodules, ferromanganese crusts, and seafloor massive sulfides, contain deposits of several of currently designated 35 critical minerals (83 FR 23295 May 18, 2018).

President Trump’s Executive Order 13817 – A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals – and DOI Secretarial Order 3359 – Critical Mineral Independence and Security – calls for BOEM to collaborate with other federal agencies to inventory and identify new supplies of marine mineral resources. These critical minerals are essential to the future economic and national security of our Nation and for which the supply chain is vulnerable to disruption.

Contact the Marine Minerals Division at for additional information, including how to submit a request for OCS marine minerals to be offered for lease.

Additional Resources