History of the Bureau of Mines Project

The Bureau of Mines was first created as the Federal Department of Mines in 1896. The conservation movement at that time envisioned a federal role in helping the Nation use its mineral resources responsibly. Concern over the waste of both human and natural resources was reflected in the President's 1907 recommendation that a U.S. Bureau of Mines be established in the Interior Department.

Congress, however, did not act on this until a series of disasters in the Nation's coal mines had focused public attention on the loss of human life. These disasters took more than 3,000 lives in 1907 alone. On May 16, 1910, Congress passed the Organic Act (Public Law 179) establishing the agency known as the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM). The USBM became functional on July 1, 1910. The USBM's scope of responsibility was extended in 1913 by an amendment to the Organic Act (Public Law 386). This amended act added significantly to the duties, which included the following functions:


-To conduct inquiries and scientific and technologic investigations concerning mining and the preparation, treatment, and utilization of mineral substances with a view to improving health conditions, and increasing safety, efficiency, economic development, and conserving resources through the prevention of waste in the mining, quarrying, metallurgical, and other mineral industries.

-To inquire into the economic conditions affecting these industries.

-To investigate the mineral fuels and unfinished mineral products belonging to or for the use of the United States, on behalf of the Government, with a view to their most efficient mining, preparation, and use, and

-To disseminate information concerning these subjects.

The Minneapolis Bureau of Mines campus was constructed in the late 1950' and early 1960' with a $1.5M appropriation from Congress from the then Senator Hubert Humphrey. Prior to ownership of the Minneapolis site by the Bureau of Mines,
the property was originally part of a larger parcel owned by the Veteran' Administration (VA). In 1949 the VA agreed to transfer 43 acres of its land to the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines to build the Twin Cities Research Campus and the 81st Congress in 1951 authorized the land transfer. In the 1960' the Bureau of Mines conveyed the eastern portion of this 43 acre-tract to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to provide for an addition to Ft. Snelling State Park.

The Center developed significant mine safety equipment and mining solutions used worldwide from the 1960's until the facility closed in 1995.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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