MSHA Highlights Abandoned Mine Websites

There are about 300,000 such mines in Appalachia alone, according to the agency.

MSHA has posted a list of publicly available websites where abandoned mines can be located. This is important because while abandoned mines exist nationwide, there are about 300,000 in Appalachia alone, posing safety concerns for mining operations and for people living near them.

"There have been many instances of active mines unintentionally cutting into adjacent mines which were not properly identified prior to mining," the agency noted in its announcement about the sites; the announcement says Congress gave MSHA $10 million to digitize mine maps and detect mine voids, and MSHA allocated $3.9 million as state grants to start programs for digitizing underground mine maps.

Mine operators reported 181 mine inundations, 107 of which were unplanned cut-throughs, from 1995 to 2002, according to the agency. "The location and extent of old workings are often unknown because mine maps were unavailable, or existing maps were incomplete or inaccurate," it said.

Operators of other sites are asked to contact James Pfeifer at pfeifer.james@dol.gov to have their links added to http://www.msha.gov/minemapping/minemapping.asp.

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