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Abandoned Mine Lands: Policy and Guidance

This page contains EPA policy and guidance documents that have direct applications to the assessment and remediation of abandoned mine lands. These policies and guidance documents must be taken in the context of the National Contingency Plan Overview (NCP), which is the overarching planning document governing Superfund actions. All policies and guidance documents are official Agency documents that reflect Agency approaches at the time of their issuance.

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To access the documents listed on this page, please use the document search tool below. Searching by document title or Superfund terms will generate a table of relevant results.

Note: Not all documents may be available at this time. EPA continues to update its website to enhance public access to Superfund-related information.


Best Practices to Prevent Releases from Impoundments at Abandoned Mine Sites while Conducting CERCLA Response Actions (PDF) (64 pp, 2.4 MB) October 2020.
EPA developed these best practices to prevent and minimize the potential for sudden uncontrolled releases of fluid mine waste that could result from the Agency’s Superfund response actions at tailings impoundments located on abandoned hardrock mine and mineral processing sites.

Planning for Response Actions at Abandoned Mines with Underground Workings: Best Practices for Preventing Sudden, Uncontrolled Fluid Mining Waste Releases (PDF) (70 pp, 4.0 MB) July 2017.
EPA developed these best practices to minimize the potential for sudden uncontrolled releases of fluid mine waste resulting from its response actions.

Planning for Removal and Remedial Activities at Hardrock Mining and Mineral Processing Sites with Fluid Hazards (PDF)(12pp, 1.8 MB)  March 2016.
Memo from former EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, regarding planning for removal and remedial activities at hardrock mining and mineral processing sites with fluid hazards, and to share the Agency’s expectations for the work that is done at these sites.

Policy on Joint Repositories at Mixed-Ownership Hardrock Mine Sites (PDF)(7 pp, 381 K)  April 2005.

Final Policy on Listing Mixed Ownership Mine or Mill Sites Created as a Result of the General Mining Law of 1872 on the Federal Agency Hazardous Waste Compliance Docket (PDF)(4 pp, 281 K)  June 2003.

EPA's National Hardrock Mining Framework (PDF)(14 pp, 108 K)  September 1997

Guidance Documents

Interim Guiding Principles for Good Samaritan Projects at Orphan Mine Sites and Transmittal of CERCLA Administrative Tools for Good Samaritans (PDF) (24 pp, 163 K)
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Office of Water and Office of General Counsel. June 2007.

Guidance --Potential for Radiation Contamination Associated With Mineral and Resource Extraction Industries (PDF) (19 pp, 148K)
Office of Air and Radiation. April 2003.

Abandoned Mine Land Site Characterization and Cleanup Handbook (PDF) (129 pp, 1.4 MB)
EPA/910-B-00-001. August 2000.

Publications on Mining Waste Management in Indian Country (PDF)(16 pp, 649K)
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. EPA/530-B-99-006. July 1999.

Technical Approaches to Characterizing and Cleaning Up Iron and Steel Mill Sites Under the Brownfields Initiative 
EPA/625-R-98/007. December 1998.

Identification and Description of Mineral Processing Sectors and Waste Streams 
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. April 1998.

Profile of the Metal Mining Industry
Office of Compliance and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. EPA/310-R-95-008. September 1995.