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Glossary

Terms in this glossary may not be used for regulatory compliance purposes.

For more information on EPA terms, abbreviations and acronyms, visit Terms of Environment.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A

acquired lands
Lands in federal ownership which were obtained by the government through purchase, condemnation, of gift, of by exchange. They are one category of public land (Bureau of Land Management, 1999b).
AIM
Arizona Abandoned and Inactive Mine
alluvium
Natural accumulations of unconsolidated clay, silt, sand, or gravel that have been transported by water, wind, or gravity to their present position.
AMD
Acid Mine Drainage
AML
Abandoned Mine Lands
AMLIS
Abandoned Mine Lands Inventory System
AMLRP
Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Program
aquifer
An underground rock formation composed of sand, soil, gravel, or porous rock that can store and supply groundwater to wells and springs.
ARD
Acid Rock Drainage
AzMILS
Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources Database

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B

backfilling
The filling in again of a place from which the rock or ore has been removed.
background geochemistry
The abundance of an element in a naturally occurring material in an area where the concentration is not anomalous.
base metals
Those metals usually considered to be of lesser value and of greater chemical reactivity compared to the noble (or precious) metals, most commonly copper, lead, zinc and tin.
beneficiation
Improvement of the grade of ores by milling, flotation, sintering, gravity concentration, or other processes. Also termed "concentration."
BLM
Bureau of Land Management
BOD
Biological Oxygen Demand
BOM
Bureau of Mines

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C

casual use
Mining activities that only negligibly disturb BLM lands and resources.
CDBG
Community Development Block Grant
CEQA
California Environmental Quality Act
CERCLA
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
claim
The portion of mining ground held under the Federal and local laws by one claimant or association, by virtue of one location and record. Also called a "location."
closure
The point at which a company permanently stops activity (although it may still retain liabilities for unforeseen environmental or safety concerns).
common variety minerals
Mineral materials that do not have a special quality, quantity, character, or location that makes them of unique commercial value. On public lands such minerals are considered saleable and are disposed of by sales or by special permits to local governments.
concentration
See "beneficiation." The amount of one material dispersed or distributed in a larger amount of another material.
construction minerals (or materials)
Materials used in construction, notably sand, gravel, crushed stone, dimension stone, asbestos, clay, cement, and gypsum.
cooperating agency
Any federal, state, or local agency or Indian tribe with jurisdiction by law or special expertise enabling it to cooperate with the lead agency preparing an environmental impact statement under NEPA.
corporate bonding
The use of corporate assets as part or all of the financial assurance for the successful completion of reclamation or other corporate responsibility.
CPFM
Colloid Polishing Fiber Method
critical environmental concern
Describes an area under BLM management and having special attributes.
CTSP
Conservation Technology Support Program
cultural resources
Natural or manmade features having cultural or historical significance, such as structures, graves, religious sites, vistas, or bodies of water.
cumulative impact
The collective impacts of several operations involving human activities, including mining, grazing, farming, timbering, water diversion or discharge, and industrial processing, also includes future impacts not immediately observable.
CVI
Canaan Valley Institute
CWA
Clean Water Act

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D

DENR
Department of Environmental and Natural Resources
development
The preparation of a mining property so that an ore body can be analyzed and its tonnage and quality estimated. Development is an intermediate stage between exploration and mining.
DEQ
Department of Environmental Quality
discovery
The initial activity in the Superfund process where a potentially contaminated site is reported to EPA or a similar state or local agency
DO
Dissolved Oxygen
DOC
Department of Conservation
DOD
Department of Defense
DOE
Department of Energy
DOT
Department of Transportation
DENR
Department of Natural Resources
dump
A pile of ore, coal, or waste at a mine.

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E

EA
Environmental Assessment
EDA
U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Association
EMNRD
Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department
EPA
Environmental Protection Agency
ephemeral stream
A stream or reach of a stream that flows briefly only in direct response to precipitation in the immediate locality and whose channel is at all times above the water table.
ESA
Endangered Species Act
exploration
The search for valuable minerals by geological, geochemical, geophysical, or intrusive physical examination. (See also "prospecting," which is considered part of exploration.)

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F

federal land management agencies
The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and others.
ferrous metals
Magnetic metals derived from iron or steel; products made from ferrous metals include appliances, furniture, containers, and packaging like steel drums and barrels. Recycled products include processing tin/steel cans, strapping, and metals from appliances into new products.
FFT
Filter Flow Technology
FHWA
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
financial assurance
Under RCRA Subtitle C, the requirements designed to ensure that TSDF owners and operators will have the financial resources to pay for closure, post-closure, and liability costs. Under RCRA Subtitle D, the requirements designed to ensure that MSWLF owners and operators will have the financial resources to pay for closure, post-closure, and corrective action costs.
FLMA
Federal Land Management Agency
FLPMA
Land Policy and Management Act
FONSI
Finding of No Significant Impact
FTA
Federal Transit Administration
FWS
see USFWS

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G

GIS
Geographic Information Systems
GMI
Green Mountain Institute
good samaritan action
An action taken for the benefit of part or all of the community at large rather than for that of the doer. In the context of abandoned mine lands, it usually refers to the correction of some prior detrimental environmental legacy as a convenience or as a public service, but without direct personal or institutional benefit.
GPS
Global Positioning System
groundwater
Underground water.

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H

hardrock
Locatable minerals that are neither leasable minerals (oil, gas, coal, oil shale, phosphate, sodium, potassium, sulphur, asphalt, or gilsonite) nor saleable mineral materials (e.g. , common variety sand and gravel). Hardrock minerals include, but are not limited to, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, nickel, tungsten, gold, silver, bentonite, barite, feldspar, fluorspar, and uranium. (BLM, 1999b) Usually refers to rock types or mining environments where the rocks are hard and strong and where blasting is needed to break them for effective mining."
heap leaching
A process for recovery of minerals from heaps of crushed ore by percolation of a solvent (such as cyanide for gold, or ferric sulfate and sulfuric acid for copper) through the heap, followed by chemical processing of the lixiviant.
HPF
Historic Preservation Fund
HUD
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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I

IAM
Inactive and Abandoned Mine Lands
ICMM
International Council on Mining and Metals
ILS
In-line Aeration and Neutralization System
IMCC
Interstate Mining Compact Commission
IRP
USDA Intermediary Relending Program
ISM
Ionic State Modification Process

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J

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K

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L

leach pad
The surface upon which ore is piled for heap leaching, including those facilities to collect the lixiviant for mineral recovery.
leasable minerals
A legal term that identifies a mineral or mineral commodity that is leasable by the federal government under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and similar legislation. Leasable minerals include oil, gas, sodium, potash, phosphate, coal, and all minerals on acquired lands.
LEPC
Local Emergency Planning Committee
lixiviant
A liquid medium that selectively extracts the desired metal from the ore or material to be leached rapidly and completely, and from which the desired metal can be recovered in a concentrated form.
locatable minerals
A legal term that identifies minerals acquired through the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended. Locatable minerals are distinguished from federally owned minerals that are disposed of by leasing (see leasable minerals). In some situations, the term "hardrock minerals" is applied to locatable minerals.
location
See "claim." Also, the process of claiming or appropriating a parcel of mineral land.
lode claim
A claim based on the presumption that the valuable mineral is a part of a bed-rock lode, vein, stockwork, stratum, or intrusion and is not dominantly a physical redistribution of values by surficial processes (the latter constitutes a placer deposit).

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M

MAS/MIL
Mineral Availilibilty System/Mineral Industry Location System
MBMG
Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
MDE
Maryland Department of the Environment
MDIG
USGS Mine Drainage Interest Group
MEND
Mine Environment Natural Drainage
MEPA
Montana Environmental Protection Act
mine
An opening or excavation in the ground for the purpose of extracting minerals.
mineral
Any natural resource extracted from the earth for human use; e.g., ores, salts, coal, or petroleum.
mineral deposit
A mineral occurrence of sufficient size and grade that it might, under favorable circumstances, be considered to have economic potential.
mineral occurrence
A concentration of mineral that is considered to be valuable or that is of technical or scientific interest.
mineral species
Term used in this report to distinguish specific mineralogical species from the unmodified term "mineral."
MPC
Mineral Policy Center
MRDS
USGS Mineral Resources Data Systems
MSHA
Mine Safety and Health Administration
multiple use
Use of land for more than one purpose; e.g., grazing of livestock, watershed and wildlife protection, recreation, and timber production. Also applies to use of bodies of water for recreational purposes, fishing, and water supply.
MWCB
Mine Waste Cleanup Bureau

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N

NASLR
National Association of State Land Reclamationists
NCP
National Contingency Plan
NEPA
National Environmental Policy Act
NFMA
National Forest Management Act
NFS
National Forest Service
NHPA
National Historical Preservation Act
NMA
National Mining Association
NMLRC
National Mine Land Reclamation Center
NORM
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials
notice-level operation
A mining or exploration operation on BLM land involving more than casual use but requiring that the operator submit only a Notice rather than a plan of operations. It is limited to an area of disturbance of 5 or fewer acres.
NPL
National Priorities List
NPO
Non-profit Organization
NPS
National Park Service
NRCS
Natural Resources Conservation Service
NSF
National Science Foundation

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O

OCS
Office of Community Services
OERR
Office of Emergency and Remedial Response
operations
All activities and facilities involved in management, access, exploration, extraction, beneficiation, maintenance, or reclamation.
ore
The naturally occurring material from which a mineral or minerals of economic value can be extracted profitably or to satisfy social or political objectives.
OSM
Office of Surface Mining
OSMRE
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
overburden
Rock and soil cleared away before mining.
oxidation
The chemical addition of oxygen to break down pollutants or organic waste; e.g., destruction of chemicals such as cyanides, phenols, and organic sulfur compounds in sewage by bacterial and chemical means. (See also redox)

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P

patent
Concerning the ownership of a mining claim: as a noun, A document that conveys title to the ground; or the process of securing a patent.
performance-based standards
Standards expressed in terms of a desired result or outcome rather than a method, process, or technology. See also "technically prescriptive standards."
phreatophyte
A plant that obtains its water supply from the zone of saturation or through the capillary fringe and is characterized by a deep root system.
pit lake
A lake that forms within the open pit of a mining operation.
placer
A mineral deposit that has achieved its present distribution through the prior action of moving water or wind. Placers are usually in poorly consolidated materials and are the sources of much, but not all, tin, titanium, rare earths, diamonds, and zirconium, and some gold.
plan of operations
A plan for mining exploration or development on BLM land involving more than 5 acres or a plan for mining where the operator with preexisting, valid claims intends to mine in an area of Critical Environmental Concern or a Wilderness area.
point source discharge
Discharge of pollutant from a discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, or container.
post-closure
The time period following the shutdown of a waste management or manufacturing facility; for monitoring purposes, often considered to be 30 years.
precious metal
Any of several relatively scarce and valuable metals, such as gold, silver, and the platinum group metals.
prospecting
The search for outcrops or surface exposures of mineral deposits. Searching for new deposits; also preliminary explorations to test the values of lodes or placers already known to exist.
public domain
Land owned, controlled, or heretofore disposed of by the U.S. government.
public land
The part of the U.S. public domain to which title is still vested in the federal government and that is subject to appropriation, sale, or disposal under the general laws.

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Q

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R

RAMP
Rural Abandoned Mine Program
RC&D
Resource Conservation and Development
RCRA
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
reclamation
Restoration of mined land to original contour, use, or condition. Also describes the return of land to alternative uses that may, under certain circumstances, be different from those prior to mining.
Record of Decision
The Record of Decision (ROD) is a public document that explains which cleanup alternatives will be used to clean up a Superfund site. The ROD for sites listed on the NPL is created from information generated during the RI/FS.
redox
A chemical reaction consisting of an oxidation reaction in which a substance loses or donates electrons, and a reduction reaction in which a substance gains or accepts electrons. Redox reactions are always coupled because free electrons cannot exist in solution and electrons must be conserved.
reserve
The quantity of mineral demonstrated to be present and known to be economically producible.
reserved lands
Federal lands which are dedicated to or set aside for a specific purpose or program and which are, therefore, generally not subject to disposition under the operation of all of the public land laws.
RMMLF
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
RO
Reverse Osmosis

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S

saleable minerals
A legal term that defines mineral commodities that are sold by contract from the Federal Government. These are generally construction materials and aggregates.
sedimentary
A rock composed of sediments, or ores formed during a process of sedimentation.
SERC
State Emergency Response Commission
SMARA
California Surface Mined Lands Reclamation Act
SMCRA
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
SME
Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
SMRD
Surface Mining Reclamation Division
SRF
State Revolving Fund
SRI
Superfund Redevelopment Initiative
suction dredge
A dredge in which the material is lifted by pumping through a suction pipe.

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T

tailings
Residue of raw material or waste separated out during the processing of crops or mineral ores.
TASWER
Tribal Association on Solid Waste and Emergency Response
TBA
Targeted Brownfields Assessment
technically prescriptive standards
standards expressed in terms of the techniques to be applied. See also "performance-based standards."
TSS
Total Suspended Solids

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U

UMTRA
Uranium Mills Tailing Remedial Action
UMTRCA
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act
uncommon variety minerals
Mineral materials that have a special quality, quantity, character, or location that makes them of unique commercial value. On public lands such minerals are locatable under the Mining Law of 1872, as amended.
unnecessary or undue
A surface disturbance greater than what would normally result when an activity is being accomplished by a prudent operator in usual, customary, and proficient operations of similar character and taking into consideration the effects of operations on other resources and land uses, including those resources and uses outside the area of operations. Failure to initiate and complete reasonable mitigation measures, including reclamation of disturbed areas or creation of a nuisance, may constitute unnecessary or undue degradation. Failure to comply with applicable environmental protection statutes and regulations thereunder will constitute unnecessary or undue degradation. Where specific statutory authority requires the attainment of a stated level of protection or reclamation, such as in the California Desert Conservation Area, Wild and Scenic Rivers, areas designated as part of the National Wilderness System administered by the Bureau of Land Management and other such areas, that level of protection shall be met.
URP
Urban Resources Partnership
USACE
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USDA
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDOI
U.S. Department of the Interior
USFS
U.S. Forest Service
USFWS
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS
U.S. Geological Survey

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V

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W

waste
Unwanted materials left over from a manufacturing process; Refuse from places of human or animal habitation
water table
The upper limit of a geologic layer wholly saturated with water.
weathering
The process of decomposition of rocks or ores through the action of air and water.
WGA
Western Governors' Association
withdrawal
The process of taking water from a source and conveying it to a place for a particular type of use.

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X

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Y

year event
The probabilistic frequency for an event of a given magnitude (e.g., a 1000-year flood).

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Z

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Definitions from Hardrock Mining on Federal Lands Exit Disclaimer. National Research Council, Committee on Hardrock Mining on Federal Lands, Committee on Earth Resources, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources: NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS, Washington, D.C. 1999.

 

 

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