United States v. Coleman
390 U.S. 599 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Coleman, 390 U.S. 599 (1968)

United States v. Coleman

No. 630

Argued March 28, 1968

Decided April 22, 1968

390 U.S. 599

Syllabus

Respondent Coleman sought a patent to lands in a national forest predicated on 30 U.S.C. § 22, under which title to land owned by the United States containing "valuable mineral deposits" may be issued to the discoverer of the deposits, and on 30 U.S.C. § 161 allowing claims to lands "chiefly valuable for building stone." Coleman contended that deposits of quartzite (one of the most common of all solid materials) qualified under those provisions. The Secretary of the Interior denied the patent application, holding (1) that, to qualify for a patent under § 22, it must be shown that the mineral can be "extracted, removed and marketed at a profit," a test which, on the largely undisputed evidence, Coleman could not meet, and (2) that the quartzite was a "common variety of stone" which, under 30 U.S.C. § 611, could not qualify for a claim under the mining laws. When Coleman remained on the land, the Government brought this ejectment action against Coleman and his lessee, and they counterclaimed for issuance of a patent. The District Court rendered summary judgment for the Government. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held:

1. The determination of the Secretary of the Interior that the quartzite did not qualify as a valuable mineral deposit because it could not be marketed at a profit must be upheld as a reasonable interpretation of 30 U.S.C. § 22. Pp. 390 U. S. 601-603.

2. The Secretary correctly ruled that, "[i]n view of the immense quantities of identical stone found in the area outside the claims, the stone must be considered a common variety,'" and thus, under 30 U.S.C. § 611, is excluded from the mining laws. Pp. 390 U. S. 603-605.

363 F.2d 190, 379 F.2d 555, reversed and remanded.

Page 390 U. S. 600

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