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Data Series 1004

Historical Files from Federal Government Mineral Exploration-Assistance Programs, 1950 to 1974








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History of the Programs

The Defense Minerals Administration (DMA), Defense Minerals Exploration Administration (DMEA), and Office of Minerals Exploration (OME), active over the period 1950-1974, were programs under which the federal government contributed financial assistance to the private sector in the exploration for certain strategic and critical minerals. After 1974, limited OME administrative work was funded until 1979, and the mineral exploration assistance programs were officially terminated in 1993. Click on the links below for more detailed information about the individual programs.

Defense Minerals Administration (DMA) - The Defense Production Act of 1950 (Public Law 774) provided financial assistance to private enterprise for the production of goods and services necessary for national security.  Title III, Section 302, of the Act provided for the encouragement of exploration, development, and mining of critical and strategic metals and minerals.  Under provisions of the Act, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) established the Defense Minerals Administration within the DOI by Secretarial Order, dated December 4, 1950.  Along with other duties, the Defense Minerals Administration was intended to serve as a direct contracting agency for minerals exploration.

Defense Minerals Exploration Administration (DMEA)- The DMA program was concerned with aspects of the minerals industry other than mineral exploration. These other aspects included, serving as a claimant agency for materials and facilities, as an advisory agency responsible for a minerals supply expansion program, and as an allocation program for metals and mineral concentrates in short supply. The various aspects, other than mineral exploration, were transferred to the Defense Materials Procurement Agency (DMPA), of the General Services Administration, on November 20, 1951. As a means of continuing the mineral exploration program started under DMA, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior established the DMEA program within the department, effective November 20, 1951.

Office of Minerals Exploration (OME) - National defense needs of mineral supplies were considered to have been met in 1958, but it was recognized that there continued to be a need for mineral raw materials to meet the expanding national economy.  To meet this need, on August 21, 1958, Congress enacted Public Law 85-701, under which governmental financial assistance, on a participating basis, was available to private industry for stimulation of exploration for such mineral raw materials as might be designated by the Secretary of the Department of Interior.  Under this law, the DOI Secretary established the Office of Minerals Exploration (OME) on September 11, 1958.

Commodities for which applications were accepted

Limited commodites were acceptable for exploration assistance applications under the different programs. The table below shows a timeline of each Program and the commodites under which applicants could apply for exploration asistance. Click on the table below for a .pdf version of the table, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

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Time line showing commodities accepted for exploration assistance


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