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Characterization, Cleanup, and Revitalization of Mining Sites

Revitalization and Reuse

Considering the potential future uses of abandoned mine lands is an important part of EPA's commitment to finding innovative and effective approaches to reducing the potential threats that these contaminated lands pose to human health and the environment. EPA recognizes that land reuse often brings economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities, and also may serve as a catalyst for expediting environmental risk reduction. EPA's Abandoned Mine Lands Reuse and Revitalization web page includes links to reports, fact sheets and technical resources related to revitalization of mine lands.

  • The Mine-Scarred Lands Initiative Tool Kit shares what was learned through the Federal Brownfields Partnership's Mine-Scarred Lands Initiative by working with six demonstration projects on hard rock and coal mining sites throughout the country. In addition to the experiences of the six projects, the toolkit includes links to other mine cleanup and reuse resources.
  • Mine Site Cleanup for Brownfields Redevelopment: A Three-part Primer Adobe PDF Logo summarizes the basic issues surrounding mine site cleanup for brownfields redevelopment, including innovative characterization and remediation approaches. The Primer includes detailed technical information about the characterization, remediation, and redevelopment of hard rock and coal mine sites. It is intended for those with an interest in, and knowledge of the technical aspects of redeveloping coal mine sites.
  • Abandoned Mine Lands: A Decade of Progress Reclaiming Hardrock Mines Adobe PDF Logo sheds light on abandoned mining sites and their impacts on public lands as well as highlight the accomplishments of the BLM, the Forest Service, and project partners in addressing AML problems. Examples provided offer insight into the environmental, health, safety, and economic effects often associated with these sites and illustrate the lasting and acid mine drainage leaching from the positive impacts of reclamation activities on formerly mined lands.
  • The journal article Ecosystem Services Consideration in the Remediation Process for Contaminated Sites, primarily authored by EPA staff, provides environmental stakeholders involved in contaminated site cleanups with a single resource to address ES and help guide decision-making during the cleanup process.
  • EPA developed fact sheets that describe reuse and revitalization of former mining sites:
  • U.S. EPA Making a Difference in Communities: California Gulch Superfund Site (Webinar Series | February 22, 2016) — For years, EPA has worked with the community of Leadville, Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, and other stakeholders to complete cleanup at the California Gulch Superfund site and return the site to appropriate use. The Superfund site encompasses 18 sq mi, including the entire town of Leadville. This video highlights how the cleanup of a portion of the Superfund site, combined with the community's leadership and support for bringing new recreational resources to the area, has resulted in development of the Lake County Community Park and Fairgrounds.
  • RE-Powering America's Lands — EPA is encouraging renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when it is aligned with the community's vision for the site. This initiative identifies the renewable energy potential of these sites and provides other useful resources for communities, developers, industry, state and local governments or anyone interested in reusing these sites for renewable energy development. The site includes a variety of resources, including mapping tools and data for assessing the renewable energy potential for sites.
  • Revegetation
  • Cleanup References

    Demonstrations/Feasibility Studies References

    General References

    Research References

  • Soil Amendments — Revitalization of a mining site may involve the addition of amendments to the contaminated soil. Soil amendments are materials added to soils in order to revitalize and make them suitable for sustaining plant life or development. Mining sites with contaminated or disturbed soils exhibit a variety of problems that often can be addressed effectively and directly through the use of soil amendments. Project managers could evaluate their effects in the subsurface, their potential for eventual transport to surface waters, and their possible subsequent adverse effects on plant and animal communities.
  • Research References