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Abandoned Mine Lands

Cleaning Up Mine Sites

Ground water treatment facility at the Gilt Edge Mine (South Dakota)

Abandoned mine lands (AMLs) are those lands, waters and surrounding watersheds where extraction, beneficiation or processing of ores and minerals has occurred. AMLs can pose serious threats to human health and the environment. The EPA conducts and supervises investigation and cleanup actions at a variety of mine sites. The Agency has a range of resources related to the environmental risks and challenges present in investingating and cleaning up AMLs. The EPA also pursues opportunities to explore innovative reuse opportunities at mine sites. More Information. . .

Abandoned Mine Lands Spotlight

Renewable Energy: The EPA has placed a national priority on showcasing opportunities for the development of renewable energy projects on contaminated lands, including renewable energy development on mining and mineral processing sites.

Good Samaritan Initiative: An Agency-wide effort to facilitate the cleanup of areas affected by runoff from orphan mine sites. It encourages cleanups by non-liable parties ("Good Samaritans") willing to voluntarily clean up these sites. More information. . .

Mining Site Case Studies: The assessment, cleanup and reuse of mining and mineral processing sites present unique challenges and opportunities. The EPA has developed a series of case studies that share key lessons learned with parties interested in learning more about innovative approaches and effective tools used at specific sites.

Mine Site News

  • Utility-Scale Solar on a Tailing Disposal Facility at the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund Site (PDF) (16 pp, 6.8MB)
    A new case study from the EPA Abandoned Minelands Team detailing the 21-acre solar demonstration project at the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund site. The project illustrates how private parties can work with the EPA, state and local agencies to incorporate renewable energy development at mining and Superfund sites and creatively reuse former mine waste disposal areas.
  • In January 2013, the EPA, the Navajo Nation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indian Health Service released a Five-Year Plan Summary Report detailing the progress of cleanup efforts at abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation lands.  The report also details efforts to provide safe drinking water and to demolish and replace contaminated homes there over the past five years. The EPA has compelled responsible parties to undertake the mine investigations and cleanup activities.
  • The EPA recently finalized an Optimization Study (PDF) (59pp, 3.6MB, About PDF) for the Gilt Edge Mine Superfund site in Lawrence County, South Dakota.  An on-site water treatment plant (WTP) continuously collects and treats acid rock drainage water that is collected at various facilities around the site. The study evaluated options to increase remedy effectiveness, cost control and technical improvement. The study identified opportunities to realize significant savings from the sites' water treatment plant by optimizing the system - up to 55% reduction in electricity usage from upgrading pumps and motors, changing procedures, and negotiating new energy costs with utilities.
  • The EPA, in cooperation with the National Park Service, has continued its work on a large-scale revegetation project at the Palmerton Zinc Superfund site in Pennsylvania. This revegetation work, which is part of ongoing action to repair environmental damage caused by emissions from smelting operations, used aircraft to seed grass and other vegetation on a 128-acre section at the top of Blue Mountain.

Mine Site Tools and Resources

Installation of Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) Solar Panels at Chevron Questa Superfund Site (NM)

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