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Elko District Office
Release Date: 10/26/11
Contacts: Lesli Ellis, (775) 753-0386;    
News Release No. 2012-003

BLM Elko District closes abandoned mines

ELKO, Nev.— The Bureau of Land Management, Elko District has completed closure of approximately 60 abandoned mines within the Elko District this week. Closure efforts began in mid-September and were completed using district assets and personnel.

Elko district’s heavy equipment operators worked about 3,000 hours pushing dirt and 16 district personnel from various resource programs and field offices assisted in providing safety guides to the bulldozer crew.

Land surveys were conducted of abandoned mine lands (AML) in June to identify the level of hazard of the sites in order to prioritize closure efforts. The 60 sites identified as priorities within the district were closed by backfilling with a bulldozer, with a few sites being closed with bat gates or foam. The areas targeted for closures were Tuscarora, Contact and various smaller areas in the southern part of the district.
The closures have been coordinated in close cooperation with Nevada Division of Minerals, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Idaho Forest Service.

The abandoned mine program is continuously seeking and closing dangerous old mine hazards statewide, with special attention to those which are close to inhabited places and areas of high public use. With our many Federal, state, and private partners, about 15,000 of the estimated 50,000 dangerous sites in Nevada have been discovered, inventoried, and fenced; and nearly 600 are permanently closed. According to Chris Ross, the BLM Nevada Abandoned Mine Program Lead, the BLM is sealing nearly 300 of these most dangerous sites per year, either by bat gating, backfilling with rock, or closing with expanding foam.

The BLM strongly encourages the public to avoid abandoned mine shafts and openings. Abandoned mines can contain toxic chemicals, lethal air and steep drops. Remember to Stay Out and Stay Alive.

Abandoned mine sites are also archaeologically significant and any debris found among them should be left as is to preserve it for the benefit of present and future generations. Archaeological resources are an irreplaceable part of American heritage.

For more information, please contact Nycole Burton at 753-0350 or by email at

bulldozer manuevers the steep slope to close abandoned minesBulldozer pushing dirt into an abandoned mine shaftBulldozer pushing dirt into an abandoned mine shaftClosing Abandoned Mines   

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Elko District Office   3900 E. Idaho St.      Elko, NV 89801  

Last updated: 10-27-2011