Obtaining Marine Minerals

Preparation of a noncompetitive agreement is a multi-step process that typically takes approximately 12 months to complete, after environmental consultations (such as those held under the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act) are concluded. Each project requires a unique level of coordination between local, state, federal and private sector partners. For BOEM, the major phases involve:

MMP Leasing Process For
a Locality
 MMP Leasing Process for a Locality
  • review of technical and environmental information in the request and project;
  • consultation on endangered species and essential fish habitat;
  • review of archaeological surveys;
  • review of air quality data;
  • review of Coastal Zone Management Act consistency;
  • preparation of an environmental analysis (Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS));
  • signing of the agreement instrument (Memorandum of Agreement or Lease) with terms and conditions, and
  • formal notification of House and Senate committees when the agreement has been signed (for authorized U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects).



MMP Leasing Process for 
USACE Civil Works
 MMP Leasing Process for USACE Civil Works Projects

For noncompetitive negotiated agreements, the Marine Minerals Program, with the assistance from other headquarters branches and regional offices, may prepare its own National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document, cooperate with another Federal agency, or coordinate with a non-federal agreement recipient if a contractor is preparing the NEPA document (EA or EIS).

On October 3, 2017, the Federal Register published BOEM’s final regulations that define the process used by the Marine Minerals Program for issuing negotiated, noncompetitive agreements for sand, gravel, and shell resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The new rule creates a new part in the Code of Federal Regulations (30 CFR 583) that addresses negotiated noncompetitive agreements for marine minerals other than oil, gas and sulphur on the OCS. A short BOEM fact sheet also describes the main steps and requirements for submitting a request for a negotiated noncompetitive agreement.

The rule describes who may qualify for a negotiated agreement, the application process for qualifying projects, and codifies new and existing procedures for using federal sand, gravel, and shell resources for shore protection, beach restoration or coastal wetland restoration projects undertaken by federal, state and local governments. It also addresses the use of OCS resources for construction projects authorized or funded by the federal government. The rule does not materially change existing requirements for negotiated agreements to use these minerals in coastal restoration and construction projects, and should not impose additional compliance obligations or costs upon the regulated entities. The rule does not apply to competitive leasing of minerals, such as sand for private or commercial use or commodity minerals such as gold.

The rule details the requirements for requesting a negotiated agreement for qualifying projects, including technical information on the potential sand borrow site and environmental evaluations and consultations with federal agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, on potential impacts from the project. The rule also addresses BOEM’s review procedures for processing requests, the process and timelines for requesting lease modifications, and defines commonly used terms.

BOEM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will enhance coordination on managing sand, gravel and shell resources from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The agreement establishes a framework for early and sustained coordination and cooperation between BOEM and the Corps. The MOU supports consistency in environmental compliance, project scheduling, and negotiated agreement requirements for projects proposing to use OCS sand, gravel, and shell resources, for which there has been a growing demand in recent years.

If you need information on the Marine Mineral leasing process or how to get started please contact the Chief of the Marine Minerals Branch at (703) 787-1851. We would be happy to provide you further guidance to help you through the process. We can also provide a list of environmental information that we require, a copy of Public Law 103-426, and an example of a recent noncompetitive sand agreement. In addition, 30 CFR part 580 describes the procedures for obtaining authorizations to conduct pre-agreement geological and geophysical surveys.

Additional information is also available about the legal framework for the Marine Minerals Program.

As steward for these resources, BOEM must ensure that the removal of these mineral resources from the OCS is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner and that any potential adverse impacts to the marine, coastal and human environments are avoided or minimized.