The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced today the availability of a Citizen’s Guide to inform the public on the bureau’s Marine Minerals Program (MMP) federal leasing process for sand, gravel, and other mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The user-friendly guide features informational graphics and flowcharts to outline resource use, process milestones, and opportunities for public involvement. The guide is available for viewing and download at www.boem.gov/mmp-citizens-guide.
BOEM authorizes OCS mineral leasing, primarily of sand and gravel, for coastal resilience projects including beach nourishment and habitat restoration, and commercial leasing of hard minerals such as cobalt and manganese.
While BOEM has not seen commercial leasing activity for hard mineral resources, the bureau has experienced a significant increase in recent years in both the number of requests to use OCS sand resources and the volume requested. This trend is most likely due to a diminishing supply of available material in state waters, benefits of using OCS sand supplies, and increased coastal erosion from recent intense storms.
OCS sediment may be used to protect critical infrastructure from coastal erosion, rebuild areas following storm events, or improve habitat used by a variety of wildlife. OCS sediment has been used for about five dozen coastal restoration projects in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Sand assessment surveys are also being completed from Maine to Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore California.
Hard minerals, such as manganese, cobalt, and other minerals classified as rare earth minerals, are highly desired for commercial use. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Interior identified 35 minerals critical to U.S. economic and national security. Pursuant to Executive Order 13817, BOEM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are currently collaborating to determine which 35 critical minerals are located on the Nation’s OCS.
BOEM is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Interior responsible for managing the development of the nation’s offshore energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible manner.