ELKO — Work is under way to close nearly 80 abandoned mines located throughout Humboldt and Pershing counties in a nearly $1.5 million project that will continue into the summer of 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Winnemucca District.
“This project is part of an ongoing effort to close or mitigate abandoned mine hazards on public lands and to protect public safety and the environment,” said Winnemucca BLM District Manager Gene Seidlitz.
The Elko BLM District also has started mine closures but didn’t receive the grant money the Winnemucca office received, according to Lesli Ellis, public affairs specialist with the Elko BLM office.
The BLM’s Winnemucca District, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Nevada Division of Minerals collaborated to initiate the Winnemucca project made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Lisa Ross of the Winnemucca BLM stated in the announcement on the Winnemucca project.
The ARRA provided $3 billion to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Of that amount, $320 million in funding went to the BLM.
The agency stated that other projects like the Winnemucca project have provided significant benefits to local communities by workers staying in hotels, dining in restaurants, buying supplies and shopping locally.
For the Winnemucca project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted cultural and biological surveys of the abandoned mines through an interagency agreement with the BLM, and the closure work will be done by the Bureau of Reclamation out of Boise, Idaho.
In addition, bat surveys were recently completed, and there is a need for bat-compatible closures at up to 29 of the 79 locations, according to the BLM.
The remaining 50 sites are to be closed permanently by backfilling with waste rock materials and/or foam closure.
The abandoned mine program is continuously locating and closing dangerous old mine hazards statewide, with special attention to those close to inhabited places and areas of high public use, according to the BLM.
Roughly 15,000 of the estimated 50,000 dangerous sites in Nevada have been discovered, inventoried and fenced and nearly 600 are permanently closed.
The BLM strongly encourages the public to avoid abandoned mine shafts and openings. Abandoned mines can contain toxic chemicals, lethal air and steep drops.
For information on the Winnemucca district mine survey, contact Ken Loda at 775-623-1500 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.