Safety and Education
Types of Safety Hazards | Stay Out-Stay Alive | Educational Resources
The rich history of mining in the West extends back more than 150 years. Mining played a significant role in the settlement and development of this once imposing frontier. As the ore was mined out or the operations became otherwise uneconomical, the mines were either boarded up or the miners simply walked away from them.
Over the years, several hundred thousand abandoned mines may have been left scattered across the western United States. A large number of these mines are on public lands that came under the management of the Federal Government only in recent years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages roughly 258 million surface acres in 12 western states, approximately one-eighth of the total land surface in the United States. BLM also manages the mineral estate underlying another 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. These old deserted mines were abandoned long before the passage of safety and environmental regulations that apply to modern mines.
Unfortunately, the location and nature of early mining activities on these lands is often poorly documented. As such old mine sites are located, BLM evaluates the potential hazards and reclaims those historic mine sites that pose safety risks to the public or present serious threats to the environment. However, this is an enormous task that will take considerable time, effort and resources.
Read about the types of safety hazards that impact abandoned mine lands