About AML

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The AML program supports the overall BLM mission of public land and water conservation. The AML program addresses physical safety and environmental hazards associated with abandoned hardrock mines on public lands administered by BLM. Abandoned mines addressed by the program are those that were abandoned prior to January 1, 1981, the effective date of BLM’s Surface Management regulations issued under authority of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).

Over the last 150 years, much of the land managed by BLM has experienced some form of mining activity. This activity ranged from exploration to full development. As ore was mined and eventually depleted, mining operations were abandoned or moved to other locations leaving scarred and contaminated land across many parts of the West. In many cases, these activities were not properly reclaimed. Typically, there are no financially responsible parties to help pay for the cleanup. As a result, BLM must pay for and address physical safety and environmental threats associated with abandoned mines.

The AML program has identified over 48,100 abandoned mine sites (as of 01/02/2015). BLM prioritizes and takes appropriate action on these historic abandoned mine sites using a risked-based approach. It is an enormous task that will take lots of time, money, and cooperation with other federal, state, and local partners. Meanwhile, the risks associated with abandoned mines remain and continue to increase because more and more remote areas are being developed or accessed for recreation. Even dangerous mines that have been properly sealed off are sometimes vandalized, entered, and left open. This can expose anyone nearby to unexpected, serious danger.

For more, view our Frequently Asked Questions.