The division conducts the State's program to identify inactive mines in the State, rank their degree of hazard and carry out activities to secure the sites, be it through owners or division staff. The division also conducts an extensive public awareness and education campaign focused on the dangers in and around abandoned mines.
The Division continues to urge claimants and property owners to secure mine openings on lands they control. Securing work, whether it be fences, barricades, or posting of warning signs, should be checked periodically and maintained. The Division has warning signs available, on request:
The signs can be obtained by visiting one of our two offices, sending a written request or by calling the Carson City office at (775)684-7040 or the Las Vegas office at (702) 486-4343.
To report an unsecured mine opening, please call the nearest NDOM office or call our 24-hour cellular number at (775)721-ROCK- (7625). **
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2007
CONTACT: Allen Newberry, (775) 684-2772
OVERTON, Nev.--The Nevada Division of State Parks recently completed the reclamation of an old gypsum mine in the backcountry of Valley of Fire State Park, located about one hour from Las Vegas. The mine site was a danger to recreation enthusiasts visiting the park.
“This project eliminated a hazard to the public and a liability for the state,” said Allen Newberry, chief of operations and maintenance for the Nevada Division of State Parks. “The trenches were a danger to off-highway vehicles and hikers.”
The reclamation came about as a result of an agreement with the Art Wilson Co., a mining company based in Carson City, Nevada.
Under an agreement made in partnership with the Nevada Division of Minerals, the Art Wilson Co. agreed--in lieu of paying a fine to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection--to team-up with State Parks to help reclaim the land and mitigate the safety hazard at Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada.
The site consisted of two trenches that were up to 90 feet deep and 700 feet long. The Art Wilson Co. reclaimed the land by filling in the trenches.
“This was an outstanding project for us, and it represents a positive, cooperative effort among the Divisions of Minerals, State Parks and Environmental Protection,” Newberry said. “The project to fill in the trenches is something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years.”
The project’s cost, which was covered by the Art Wilson Co., was estimated to be about $50,000.
The Nevada Division of State Parks plans, develops and maintains a
system of parks and recreation areas for the use and enjoyment of more
than 2.3 million visitors a year. The division was established in 1963
by the Nevada Legislature to form a new state park agency within the
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division
manages and maintains 24 parks in Nevada.
NEVADA DIVISION OF STATE PARKS
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
901 S. Stewart St., Ste. 5005
Carson City, NV 89701-5248
Nevada program to secure abandoned mines is model for other states
Number of permanent mine closures sets BLM record
A public/private partnership is making Nevada’s public lands safer by permanently securing mine sites that are no longer operational and have been abandoned by their owners. The successful program, which includes government, land, mining and wildlife-related organizations and companies, has become a model for other states. The targeted mine sites pre-date the 1983 federal regulations governing mine closures, with some sites dating back to the 1840s.
“The Abandoned Mines Permanent Closure Program is successful because of the tremendous cooperation, ‘can do’ attitude and donation of manpower, services and equipment of all the partners,” said Chris Ross, abandoned mine program leader for the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “As a result, everyone in Nevada benefits from the elimination of potential safety hazards. Now other states also are benefiting by learning about our program.”
Ross has spoken to other government entities, land and mining groups and conferences that have expressed an interest in establishing a similar program.
The Abandoned Mines Permanent Closure Program involves the BLM, the Nevada Division of Minerals (NDOM), the Nevada Mining Association (NMA) and its members, which include mining and industry supply companies. Assistance also comes from a diverse group of agencies and entities, such as the Nevada Department of Wildlife, university researchers and graduate students, and volunteers ranging from professional archaeologists to Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts and prospector clubs.
According to the BLM, about 25 people nationwide die each year from accidents related to abandoned mines. Bill Durbin, NDOM chief of Southern Nevada operations, said there hasn’t been an abandoned mine-related death in Nevada since 1999, and there was only one incident involving a dog in 2006. “Abandoned mine hazards could include falls, loose ground, rotten timbers, bats, poisonous snakes and spiders, bad air, old explosives and hantavirus from rodents.”
Since the program began in 1999, 255 abandoned mines in urban areas and areas of high public use in Nevada have been permanently secured. The program continues to grow from six mines in 1999 to a new nationwide BLM record of 118 abandoned mines secured during 2005 and 2006 in or around Tonopah, Rhyolite, Beatty and Perry Canyon north of Reno. A backfilling process is used to permanently secure the mines with rock of no mineral value that was left around the mine opening.
According to BLM estimates, between 200,000 and 300,000 abandoned mines are scattered throughout Nevada, and 50,000 of these sites are considered physical or safety hazards. Ross said Nevada has more abandoned mines than all other western states combined, primarily due to Nevada’s long mining history and the state’s many ores and minerals. The formal mining history of Nevada began with the discovery of lead at Mt. Potosi outside of Las Vegas in the 1840s, and grew with the discovery of the Comstock Lode’s gold and silver deposits in 1859.
“While there are many abandoned mines in Nevada, there is a very narrow window of time in the fall that we can backfill mines because of environmental considerations related to bat population habitats, and sheer numbers” Durbin said. “Therefore, we prioritize and target those mines closest to population centers and off-road and recreational areas.”
Ross said many of the abandoned mines are more than 100 years old. “It’s important to note that today’s modern mining industry has nothing to do with the abandoned mines,” he said. “There is absolutely nothing of value left in those mines so there’s no reason people should even go into them.”
Planning for each backfill project takes several months, and several surveys have to be completed to obtain the necessary clearances which the BLM coordinates. For example, the Tonopah project surveys involved:
In addition to BLM, NDOM and NMA, private individuals and companies assisting with the Tonopah project included: Mary Kaye Cashman, Cashman Equipment, which provided the Caterpillar D-6 bulldozer; Paul DeLong, DeLong Heavy Hauling, which transported the bulldozer; Tinker Fannin, Round Mountain Gold, which provided the fuel drums; and Alfred Anderson, Round Mountain Gold, who operated the bulldozer.
According to Ross, there is no formal agreement between participants in the program, which began in late 1999. “Everyone recognizes the benefit of working together to secure potential hazards,” he said.
# # #
The Division sends this publication to new 4th and 8th grade teachers each year. It provides lessons and activities which encourage students to stay away from abandoned mines and not to vandalize fences or other barricades around abandoned mines. The mini-unit incorporates material on Nevada history, mining in Nevada, safety, responsibility, and respect. It can be used in conjunction with Nevada's history curriculum.
Attention: AML Program
Nevada Division of Minerals
400 W. King St., Ste. 106
Carson City, NV 89703
Please include a contact name, contact phone number, school name, school address, and grade level(s) in your request.
Copyright © 2008 State of Nevada, Commission on Mineral Resources, Division of Minerals. All Rights Reserved.
|DISCLAIMER OF ENDORSEMENT: Any reference obtained from this site to a specific product, process or service does not constitute or imply and endorsement by the Nevada Division of Minerals, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources, or the State of Nevada of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Nevada Division of Minerals, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources, or the State of Nevada.|
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