The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Rockhill.

No. 131.]

Sir: On the 10th ultimo the department sent to the Secretary of the Interior copies of your dispatch No. 206, of January 21 last, and of instructions Nos. 114 and 117, dated, respectively, the 2d and 10th [Page 268] ultimo, and he was asked whether he had any additional points to suggest that would serve as a basis for further instructions to you, with the view to securing such amendments to the Chinese mining regulations as would bring them more into harmony with our treaty with China and render them more practical for industrial and commercial purposes.

I inclose herewith, for your information and guidance, a copy of the answer of the Secretary of the Interior and of the inclosures to his letter.

I am, sir, etc.,

Robert Bacon, Acting Secretary.
[Inclosure 1.]

The Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of State.

Sir: Your letter of the 10th instant [ultimo] has been received, submitting for any additional suggestions that may serve as a basis for further instructions to our minister to China, a copy of recent correspondence between your department and that minister in regard to securing such amendments to the Chinese mining regulations adopted by the edict of the Emperor of China March 17, 1904, as will tend to bring them into harmony with our treaty with that country signed October 8, 1903, and render them more practicable for industrial and commercial purposes.

In response thereto, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a report submitted by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, inviting attention to his former report of August 25, 1904, which accompanied department letter of August 27, 1904,a on the same subject, and have to advise you that the same objections to the mining regulations in question still exist as were outlined in those communications, as under the regulations as formulated it would be impossible to induce any citizens of the United States to invest any considerable portion of their capital in mining operations in China.

Very respectfully,

E. A. Hitchcock, Secretary.


Secretary of the Interior.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge, by your reference, the receipt of a communication from the Secretary of State, dated March 10, 1906, inclosing a copy of recent correspondence between the Department of State and the United States minister to China.

You request this office to submit such suggestions as may be deemed pertinent and advisable.

The correspondence referred to relates to securing such amendments to the Chinese regulations as will bring them more into harmony with our treaty with China and render them more practicable for industrial and commercial purposes.

The revised mining regulations adopted by edict of the Emperor of China March 17, 1904, were referred by the department to this office for its consideration and report thereupon, and all of them were carefully considered in my report dated August 25, 1904,a a copy of which is herewith inclosed.

I have carefully reviewed the suggestions and recommendations contained in that report, and, after having given further consideration to this important subject, I adhere to them as the expression of the views entertained by this office at this time upon this subject, and therefore have nothing further to suggest in the premises.

[Page 269]

It occurs to me, however, that a reference may properly be made to Lindley on Mines, paragraph 12, first edition, commenting upon the mining laws of France, as follows:

“From the earliest times the French law placed all mines, whether in public or in private lands, at the disposition of the nation, and made the working of them subject to its consent and to the surveillance of the Government.

“The French law divided the subject of mining into three classes—mines, minieres, and carrieres.

“Mines, properly speaking, were those wherein the substances were obtained from underground workings, the extraction of which required extensive development and elaborate machinery. In the language of De Fooz—

“Mines of this kind constitute a part of the domain of the state; they are to be ranked as the property of society, and should be confined to the sovereign authority; and this authority should have a general control over their extraction. In this consists the system of the regalian right of mines.’”

Taking the act of April 21, 1810, as the basis of the French law, as it existed during the period presently under consideration, we give the following outline of its general features:

Mines.—Those were considered as mines which were known to contain, in veins, beds, or strata, gold, silver, platinum, quicksilver, lead, iron (in veins or beds), copper, tin, zinc, bismuth, arsenic, manganese, antimony, molybdenite, plumbago, or other metallic substances; sulphur, coal, fossilized wood, bituminous substances, alum, or sulphates. To this category, by law of June 17, 1840, salt springs and salt mines were added.

“Mines could only be worked in virtue of an act of concession, which vested the property in the concessionaire, with power to dispose of and transmit the same like other property, except that they could not be sold in lots or divided without the consent of the Government, given in the same form as the concession. Royalties were payable to the owners of the surface and to the Government. No one could make searches for the discovery of mines in land which did not belong to him, unless with the consent of the proprietor of the surface, or with the authorization of the Government, subject to a previous indemnity to the proprietor and after he shall have been heard. The proprietor might make searches without previous formality, but he was required to obtain a concessions before he would establish a mine working. From the moment a mine was conceded, even to the proprietor of the surface, this property was distinguished from that of the surface, and was thereafter considered as a new property. Concessions were obtained by petition, addressed to the prefect, who registered it, and posted notice thereof for a period of four months. Proclamations were required to be made at certain places and times at least once a month during the continuation of the postings. Investigations were required to be made by the prefect of the department on the opinion of the engineer of mines, the results being transmitted to the minister of the interior. In the absence of opposition concessions were granted by an imperial decree, deliberated upon in council of state. The act of concession determined the extent, which was to be bounded by fixed points taken on the surface of the soil, and by passing vertical planes from the surface into the interior of the earth to an indefinite depth. The engineers of mines exercised, under the orders of the interior and the prefects, a surveillance of police for the preservation of edifices and the security of the soil. Royalties were payable to the Government proportional to the yield in addition to a fixed tax called “ground tax.” Forfeiture of the privilege granted by the concession resulted from a failure to comply with its terms, or from suspension of the works, if by such suspension the wants of consumers were affected, or if the suspension had not been authorized by the mining authorities.”

All of the papers received are herewith returned as you directed.

Very respectfully,

W. A. Richards, Commissioner.