Abandoned Mines


Fisher Creek, Montana.

Most of us know the colorful history of mining towns and miners, but are you also aware that this legacy includes approximately 500,000 abandoned mines - mostly in the western United States?

Threats to Water

Vital waterways are polluted by these abandoned mines, many of which were built for extracting hardrock minerals like gold, silver, copper, uranium and lead. Some of these sites now pose serious threats to the health and safety of communities downstream.

Mining has contaminated at least 40 percent of stream reaches in the headwaters of western watersheds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Much of this pollution is due to abandoned mines.

Threats to the Taxpayer

Total clean-up estimates for abandoned mine range from $32 billion to $72 billion. The American taxpayer is on the hook for almost all of that cost.

Unlike the the coal mining industry, the metal mining industry pays no fee to clean up its legacy of abandoned mines.

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Tagged with: water pollution, taxpayers, epa, abandoned mines