Abandoned Mine Lands
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
- 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) (105pp, 13MB, About PDF) for the Black Butte Mine Superfund site in Lane County, Oregon. Mercury mining and processing operations took place at the site from the late 1890s to the late 1960s. The study evaluated site conditions and identified optimal approaches for investigating the fate and transport of mercury contamination at the site.
- In 2012, the EPA proposed placing two mining and mineral processing sites on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The sites proposed for NPL listing are the Bautsch-Gray Mine in Region 5 and the Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine in Region 6. The EPA placed the Bautsch-Gray Mine on the final NPL in September 2012. View a list of all NPL and Superfund Alternative Approach mining sites.
- 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
- Overview of U.S. EPA’s Technical Outreach and Support Activities on Sustainable Mining Applications (PDF) (25pp, 1MB, About PDF). Highlights of alternative and innovative technologies for remediating abandoned mine sites.
- Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC). The ITRC is a public-private coalition working to reduce barriers to the use of innovative environmental technologies that maximize cleanup efficacy. The ITRC has developed technical and regulatory guidance to aid in technology selection to remediate mining sites.
- Clu-In Webinars on Mining Sites. Archives of webinars on technology-related resources and training opportunities associated with characterization, cleanup, and redevelopment of abandoned mine sites.