Federal Land Management:

Limited Action Taken To Reclaim Hardrock Mine Sites

RCED-88-21: Published: Oct 21, 1987. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO revisited 30 unreclaimed mine sites that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) believed to be abandoned without reclamation, to assess the status of reclamation efforts at the sites.

GAO found that: (1) 6 of the 30 sites have been completely reclaimed, and 4 have been partially reclaimed; (2) mining resumed on 5 of the sites, delaying the necessity for reclamation; (3) BLM reclaimed 1 site, at a cost of $4,000; (4) the 19 remaining inactive mine sites will cost an estimated $87,400 to reclaim; (5) BLM took no action on 15 of the 19 inactive sites after the initial GAO report; and (6) BLM does not believe that it is necessary to require surety bonds for all mining operations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM has taken other steps to identify unreclaimed land and obtain its reclamation. In its FY 89 Annual Work Plan, BLM increased the priority for inspection and enforcement actions related to reclamation and created new program elements to track progress. BLM is placing priority on documenting case files to better determine where reclamation is needed and where it has been completed.

    Recommendation: The Director, BLM, should direct BLM state officials to contact operators or claim holders of known unreclaimed mine sites as soon as feasible to urge their reclamation. Priority should be given to those mine sites that are not covered by financial guarantees.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management


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