Data Series 1004
Office of Minerals Exploration
The OME program was similar to the previous Defense Minerals Administration (DMA) and Defense Minerals Exploration Administration (DMEA) programs but more restrictive. It was operated under the same Department of the Interior administrative offices and used the same U.S. Geological Survey-U.S. Bureau of Mines (USGS-USBM) field team arrangement as had the previous DMA and DMEA programs. It adhered, more or less, to practices, regulations, and procedures that had been established under the two preceding programs but contained some significant changes. One change required an OME applicant to present two letters of evidence from banks or money-lending concerns that showed the applicant was unable to borrow funds from the lending concerns, at reasonable rates, for the proposed exploration work. Prospectors or operators of small mines had little trouble obtaining such letters as they commonly had few assets or collateral to mortgage and, therefore, did not qualify for a loan. On the other hand, large mining companies or concerns with extensive holdings or other securities that could be mortgaged found such letters difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. The result was that fewer large mining companies or concerns participated in the OME program then did in the DMEA program. Another change restricted governmental participation in an OME exploration contract to $250,000, which eliminated large and expensive exploration projects, some of which had been notably successful under the DMEA program. Changes also were made in minerals or mineral products eligible for financial assistance, with some minerals or mineral products being deleted from eligibility, whereas others such as gold and silver were classed as eligible. Funds for the Government-supported mineral exploration program came from annual appropriations to the Department of the Interior.
To economize on costs, all administrative and operating responsibilities of the OME program were transferred to the USGS in 1965. Thereafter, all field functions previously handled by the USGS-USBM field team were performed by USGS personnel. Funds allocated to the USGS for participation in OME mineral exploration projects were terminated in 1974, although limited administrative funds continued to be received by the USGS until 1979. These administrative funds covered costs of such work as closing out existing exploration contracts, preparation of final reports on completed contracts, and continued review and audit of royalty funds received from the sale of material mined from payment-obligated properties. A change in regulations concerning acquisition of Federal assistance in financing exploration for mineral reserves in the United States, its territories, and possessions became effective on January 19, 1993 (Federal Register, vol. 57, no. 243, December 17, 1992). The change terminated the OME program.