Abandoned Mine Lands Program

Return to: Back to Mining Resources

INTRODUCTION

The federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was signed into law on August 3,1977 to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation nationwide. The law provided states the opportunity to develop State coal programs and assume primacy over the coal program from the federal government. Alaska chose to administer the program and the Alaska Surface Coal Mining Control and Reclamation Act was approved on May 2,1983 with the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources being granted jurisdiction over surface coal mining and reclamation operations in the state. In addition to regulating the coal industry the State and federal laws created the Abandoned Mine Lands Program for the purpose of reclaiming abandoned historic mines of any type.

Land and water eligible for reclamation are those that were mined or affected by mining and abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status before August 3, 1977, and for which there is no continuing reclamation responsibility under State or federal law. AML funds can be spent on coal and non-coal abandoned historic mines.Jonesville Project State, private, native and federal lands are eligible. Original sunset for the collection of AML funds was in 2004, set by federal law. The fee collection that provides the funds which the federal government distributes to the various states and tribal entities has been extended by Congress until September 30, 2021. As of FY2010 the Federal Office of Surface Mining no longer provides funding for emergencies at the state level. While some States view the AML Program as an ongoing source of revenue, Alaska manages the funding with an eye towards getting as many safety issues mitigated as possible in the shortest time practicable given the funding level provided. There are no State General Fund dollars used in the AML Program.

Return to top


FUNDING SOURCE AND LEVELS

The AML Program is funded 100 percent by the AML Trust Fund administered by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). AML funds are collected from a fee assessed on today's coal industry for every ton of coal produced and used to correct past deficiencies on now-defunct mine sites. The fee is 28.0 cents/ton for surface mines and 12.0 cents/ton for underground mines.

The State is entitled to receive 50% of the fees collected from coal production in the State and the historic production amount. Figure 1Alaska's funding level has historically been less than $200,000 using this award formula. If a State's reclamation needs exceed $2,000,000 they can request Minimum Program Status and receive additional grant amounts annually until the work remaining on the inventory drops below the $2,000,000 level. Alaska has received the Minimum Program funding level of grant amounts since 1994 (Figure 1).


Alaska has received $32.3 million since FFY 1983 (Figure 2). Under SMRCA 2006 Amendments, the grants for minimum programs such as Alaska's are now provided "off-budget" and will increase to $3.0 million per year for the duration of fee collection.


The majority of the AML funds are annually awarded to Alaskan contractors (Figure 3). The cost of administering the program is kept low in order to add more mitigation interests. The construction funds in each grant are available for three years. The administrative funds are single year funds. Any balances at the end of a grant cycle are rolled over to another grant.

Return to top


INVENTORY AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Coal and non-coal abandoned historic mines were broadly inventoried. Coal mining in Alaska has been well documented and every mine of significance has been identified. The coal inventory was completed in 1983 and 340 sites were identified. At present we are working to refine that inventory to identify specific features and plan for mitigating each of them. A literature search of known non-coal mines was compiled in 1991 and 432 sites were identified. The non-coal inventory remains incomplete for state, private and native lands.

Every inventoried site was evaluated to determine if it qualified for AML funding. Federal policy requires that priority one and two coal projects (the most likely to cause death or severe injury to site visitors) be completed first. Priority three coal projects (environmental issues) can be completed in conjunction with priority one and two projects or after all priority one and two projects have been completed. Only priority one non-coal projects can be reclaimed. Priority one non-coal sites can be worked on simultaneously with coal sites if they have been requested by the Governor. Because of the subjective nature of the criteria, priority two non-coal sites were identified for further evaluation. The three reclamation priorities are:

1. Protection of public health, safety, general welfare and property from extreme danger resulting from the adverse effects of past coal mining practices.

2. Protection of public health, safety and general welfare from adverse effects of past coal mining practices, which do not constitute an extreme danger.

3. Restoration of eligible lands and waters and the environment previously degraded by adverse effects of past coal mining practices, including measures for the conservation and development for soil, water (excluding channelization), woodland, fish and wildlife, recreation resources, and agricultural productivity.

(Figure 4) AML Inventory as of Sept. 1, 2010

 

Coal Projects

Non-Coal Projects

Region

Priority 1

Priority 2

Priority 3

Priority 1

Priority 2

Priority 3

Arctic

0

0

0

0

0

0

Interior

0

3

0

0

0

0

Northwest

0

0

0

0

0

0

South Central

1

5

1

0

0

0

South East

0

0

3

21

0

1

South West

0

0

0

0

0

1

Subtotal

1

8

4

21

0

2

Total by Source

 

13

 

 

23

 

 

Utilizing these general priorities it was determined that there are at least 13 very large coal project areas and 23 known non-coal projects that still need to be reclaimed (Figure 4).

In the initial inventories it was estimated that reclamation of the coal projects would cost $52,230,000 and the non-coal projects would cost $627,000. To date 89 AML projects have been completed at a cost of $18.2 million (Figure 5). In some cases a site contains a single mining hazard and in other cases a multitude of mining hazards exists on a single site. The majority of the remaining coal related hazards are dangerous highwalls (19,750 feet) and surface burning (30 acres) and the majority of the non-coal hazards are open portals (19) and vertical openings (25).

The goals of the AML Program will be to complete as many coal and Jonesville Project non-coal projects as funding will allow. We will be using periods of time when most funds are committed to single large projects to define and design mitigation plans for the remaining features requiring work in order to have the projects "on the shelf" as funds become available in the future. Funding available for non-coal projects is limited to the state share and historic coal share funding sources which total roughly $150,000 per year-but our Program has a stated focus on mitigating legacy coal issues.

It is apparent that all of the sites requiring reclamation cannot be completed before the AML Funds cease to be available in the future. The Division will continue to re-evaluate the inventories and concentrate on the highest priority coal and non-coal projects that have been identified. The AML Program will attempt to find other sources of finding such as shared cost projects with the mining industry, utilizing the RAMS Program through the US Army Corps of Engineers, and leveraging project participation by the various federal land managing agencies.

Return to top

(Figure 5) AML Accomplishments through 9/1/10

Problem Area

Units *

Problem Description

Costs

Bonanza Mine

4

Portal(s)

$9,924

Buffalo Mine

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$15,000

 

1

Portal(s)

$18,012

 

1

Vertical Opening

$16,000

 

1.5

Gob Pile(s)

$7,500

Carbon Run South

4

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$27,500

Chickaloon Mine

7

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$4,100

Chignik

2

Portal(s)

$36,210

Crowne Pointe Mine

4

Portal(s)

$11,000

 

1

Vertical Opening

$10,500

Culross Mine

1

Vertical Opening

$53,598

 

1

Portal(s)

$43,280

Diamond Mine

2

Dangerous Impoundments

$13,600

 

2

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$3,238

 

30

Dangerous Highwalls

$6,000

Dunkle Mine

14

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$33,775

East Houston
Mine

2

Vertical Opening

$10,000

 

4

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$20,000

 

900

Dangerous Highwalls

$33,200

Erie Mine

2

Portal(s)

$29,729

Eska Creek Mine

1

Subsidence

$60,702

9

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$30,044

1

Portal(s)

$5,050

9

Vertical Openings

$225,922

Eska Mine

1

Portal(s)

$25,000

 

2

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$21,000

 

5

Gob Pile(s)

$3,993

 

9

Slurry

$10,000

Ester Dome

1

Portal(s)

$4,416

8

Vertical Opening

$35,324

Glenn Highway Adits

2

Portal(s)

$10,973

Gold Stamp

1

Vertical Opening

$10,800

Gold Standard Mine

10

Portal(s)

$113,090

 

2

Vertical Opening

$14,136

Grenac Claims

4

Vertical Opening

$7,370

Hammond River

2

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$51,060

Happy Association Claims

2

Vertical Opening

$3,600

Harrington Mine/Nulea Bay

1

Portal(s)

$12,500

1

Vertical Opening

$12,500

Healy Creek Floodplain

1350

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$868,535

Hydraulic-Vitro-W.Cripple Creek

130

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$150,000

Jonesville Fire

47

Surface Burning

$7,346,408

Jumbo Mine

4

Portal(s)

$9,924

Kuk River

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$976

 

1

Portal(s)

$1,500

 

2

Industrial/Residential Waste

$3,200

Little Eva Mine

1

Portal(s)

$200

 

3

Vertical Opening

$3,396

Londevan Mine

1

Portal(s)

$29,500

McKinley Lake Mine

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$7,500

 

1

Portal(s)

$15,000

 

3

Vertical Opening

$15,000

Mead River Mine

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$200

 

1

Vertical Opening

$277

Nenana River Tramway

5

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$7,000

North Fork Chandalar River

5

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$8,053

North Jones Mine

1

Dangerous Impoundments

$50,000

 

5450

Dangerous Highwalls

$3,113,023

 

2

Vertical Openings

$95,149

Paige Shaft

1

Vertical Opening

$7,932

Peterson Mine

1

Vertical Opening

$9,093

Red Top Mine - Denali

1

Portal(s)

$22,812

 

2

Dangerous Piles & Embankments

$5,000

Sagan Bench Claims

4

Vertical Opening

$7,200

Shoup Bay/Alice Mine

1

Portal(s)

$10,150

 

1

Vertical Opening

$54,880

Six Mile Mine

2

Portal(s)

$8,341

South Knob Creek Mine

1

Dangerous Impoundments

$15,762

 

1

Dangerous Piles & Embankments

$925

 

25

Slump

$11,000

 

30

Dangerous Highwalls

$3,000

Southeast Knob Creek

2

Hazardous Water Body

$123,640

 

47

Spoil Area

$84,935

 

4860

Dangerous Highwalls

$3,305,443

Suntana Townsite

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$18,300

Suntrana Old Tipple

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$20,000

 

1

Industrial/Residential Waste

$259,370

Suntrana Tipple

66

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$964,008

Suntrana Townsite

1

Industrial/Residential Waste

$3,800

 

11

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$18,300

Sutton Coal Washery

1

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$20,284

Treadwell Mine

5

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$73,000

 

5

Portal(s)

$90,804

 

12

Vertical Opening

$210,077

 

70

Dangerous Highwalls

$13,350

Vitro Railroad Tipple

3.5

Dangerous Piles & Embankments

$12,034

 

5

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$10,666

West Homer Mine

2

Vertical Opening

$51,474

Wishbone Hill Mine

1

Portal(s)

$1,500

 

3

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

$9,225

Grand Total

 

 

$18,221,792

** Project is partially completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Problem Area Work Unit Measurements

Problem Description

Standard Measurement Unit

Completed as of 09/01/2010

Dangerous Highwalls

Feet

11,340

Dangerous Impoundments

Count

4

Dangerous Pile & Embankments

Acres

6.5

Gob Piles

Acres

5

Hazardous Equipment & Facilities

Count

1,631

Hazardous Water Body

Count

2

Industrial/Residential Waste

Acres

4

Portals

Count

46

Spoil Area

Acres

47

Surface Burning

Acres

47

Slurry

Acres

9

Slumps

Acres

25

Subsidence

Count

1

Vertical openings

Count

62

 

 

 

 

Return to top


For More Information Contact

Division of Mining, Land & Water
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 900D
Anchorage, AK 99501-3577
907) 269-8631