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BLM Programs>Nevada>BLM Programs>Minerals>Abandoned Mine Lands
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Abandoned Mine Lands

The vast legacy of historic mining in Nevada predates the Civil War and will continue to pose safety risks for years to come. Nevada’s public lands offer infinite opportunities for adventure and discovery, but abandoned mines should not be one of them. The life-threatening physical and chemical risks posed by these decaying features are completely unpredictable, and all of the valuable artifacts were removed long ago. Please stay out and stay alive!

Danger sign 

Photos of dangerous abandoned mine openings

With an estimated 300,000 abandoned mine lands (AML) features, of which 50,000 pose significant risks to human safety, Nevada leads the west in number of AML challenges to remediate.  The Nevada BLM AML program has three components: historic physical safety hazards, historic watershed/chemical contamination sites such as old millsites or tailings impoundments, and contemporary, modern mines and millsites which have been abandoned or become bankrupt. Fortunately, Nevada also has a nationally recognized collaboration, including state agencies, other federal entities, conservation groups, academic scientists, the Nevada Mining Association, individual mines and equipment dealers, tribal entities, and others who are making great and continuous progress in eliminating Nevada's legacy of abandoned mine problems.

Closing Abandoned Mines
• The BLM Nevada abandoned mine program is continuously seeking and closing 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 18,000 of the estimated 50,000 dangerous sites in Nevada have been discovered, inventoried, and fenced; and nearly 1500 are permanently closed.

• We are sealing nearly 400 of these most dangerous sites per year, either by bat gating, backfilling with rock, or closing with expanding foam.

• We also continue to remediate environmental and physical hazards associated with abandoned mill and processing sites and the toxic byproducts associated with them. In most years, Nevada’s progress has equaled or exceeded that of the other western states combined.

In the process of closing abandoned mines, much valuable information about the past and present is collected, analyzed and archived. Biological surveys include bats, rare plants, and where appropriate tortoises and migratory birds. Abandoned mines are the most significant habitat for many species of bats in Nevada and preservation of that habitat is a major objective of the AML program. Mining history is also enhanced under the AML program - sites are surveyed and photographed by professional historic archaeologists before any action is taken, and the resulting information is permanently archived with the State Historic Preservation Office.

The BLM Nevada abandoned mine program has been repeatedly formally recognized for its accomplishments at the national level many times and continues to be a model for other programs.