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  Abandoned Mine Lands Program Back BCA Home Page   

Active AML Site Pages:

Rio Tinto


Background — This page provides general information about NDEP's Abandoned Mine Lands Program ("AML Program") managed by the Bureau of Corrective Actions (BCA) within the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). The AML Program is focused on mitigating potential human health and ecological concerns associated with contamination from legacy heavy metal mining operations (inactive or abandoned mine lands) that occurred prior to September 1, 1989. AML sites operated generally from the 1860's through the late-20th century on both public and private lands within the State of Nevada. AML sites may include mills, mill tailings, exposed shafts/adits/tunnels, waste rock dumps, heap leach pads, chemical hazards, and associated structures and roads.

Scope and Authority — Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 445A and Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 445A and 459 provide the authority to oversee assessment and corrective action on AML sites. Mining operations active since September 1, 1989 generally fall under the purview and regulations of the Bureau of Mining Regulation and Reclamation.

AML Sites on Public and Private Lands — Private lands with an identified owner/operator (O/O) - the AML Program will work with the O/O to resolve contamination problems and minimize human health risks and environmental hazards. Private lands with no viable O/O or with a lack of funding or bonding necessary to complete a restoration deemed necessary - the AML Program gains access to and assesses the site, determines a remedy, seeks and obtains funding to complete the work, completes the necessary reclamation work, and monitors the remedy to determine if the land has been restored to a stable or safe condition. On public lands - the AML Program coordinates with the BLM and/or USFS or other public land managers to restore lands damaged by historic mining operations.

Site Assessment and Ranking — The AML Program is developing a phased site research, reconnaissance and ranking methodology. The first step in the AML Program regarding a specific site reclamation project is an initial site assessment, which may include O/O searches, public and private property records search, discussions with other agencies, data accumulation, site visits, and other investigative techniques.

The ranking of sites for more detailed assessment will follow from initial information gathered. A hazard ranking criteria schema is utilized to assist in the ranking of sites. The hazard ranking utilizes nine human health and environmental criteria, and associated weighting factors, to analyze the key elements that play a role in prioritizing AML environmental reclamation work. The basic criteria are: current exposure to human population; documented hazardous exposure to environment; presence of sensitive species or critical habitat; currently degrading waters of the State; adits with water, distance to surface water & potential for impact; depth to groundwater, and proximity to wells; presence of chemical hazards & potential for impact; and known acute or chronic toxic effects.

This development of this methodology will benefit from stakeholder outreach and review to assure it is implemented effectively. Once sites have been prioritized for further site assessment and remediation activity, an evaluation of options and plans for proceeding at each site is developed. Costs are also considered as are other management concerns. Concerning prioritizing resources, NDEP will focus on sites where releases present a known or potential direct human or environmental exposure and where sources of funding may be available.

Reclamation — The AML Program addresses environmental hazards associated with abandoned mine sites in a variety of ways, utilizing proven and innovative technologies. Hazard remediation work may include, but is not limited to: redirecting stream flow around tailings and mining wastes; capping mining waste and tailings piles; removal of waste rock and tailings piles; installing drains at adits to reduce or control flow of metal-laden, low pH-water; applying low-cost, low-maintenance water treatment technologies; and removing chemical hazards and impacted soils.

Potential Partners — To ensure AML Program long-term effectiveness and sustainability, and site reclamation effectiveness, the AML Program has initiated and will continue to coordinate with partner organizations, including, but not limited to:

  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Nevada Division of Minerals
  • Nevada Department of Wildlife
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Nevada Mining Association
  • Desert Research Institute
  • University of Nevada, Reno - Engineering Graduate Program
  • University of Nevada, Reno - Hydrology Graduate Program

AML Program Funding Tools and Mechanisms — The AML Program needs funding for site assessment activities and site reclamation work. Various potential funding mechanisms and opportunities are being explored; contributions are welcomed.

Contact Information
Abandoned Mine Lands Program
Bureau of Corrective Actions
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
901 S. Stewart St., Ste. 4001
Carson City, NV 89701
Fax: 775-687-8335

Jeryl Gardner - Program Coordinator Abandoned Mine Lands
Phone: 775-687-9484 / jgardner [at] ndep.nv.gov

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