Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2012

Description

More than a decade before becoming President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer, observed that, among the branches of property law, the distribution of mining rights most elegantly reflects the vicissitudes of social and political relations. According to Hoover, mining rights were a "never-ending contention," as old as economic and civil conflict, among four principle classes – overlord, state, landowner, and miner. "Somebody," he concluded, "has to keep peace and settle disputes."

Today, with the prices of major natural-resource commodities – including oil, coal, copper, gold, and iron ore – doubling, tripling, or rising even faster, the extractive industries are rapidly expanding. Profitable investments in the sector could lift millions of people out of poverty in the developing world.

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