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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Reclamation > Abandoned Mines > About Abandoned Mine Land Program About Abandoned Mines

The purpose of the Abandoned Mine Lands Program is to alleviate the safety, health and environmental hazards of past coal mining practices while improving land productivity and enhancing the landscape. The program has been operating since the early 1980s and has reclaimed more than 10,000 acres.

The funding for the AML Program is based on a per ton fee paid by active coal operators. 100% of the construction and administrative expenses are reimbursed back to the Division through annual grants. View our recent projects in the Restoration Program 2013 Annual Accomplishment Report.

Indiana has a history of requiring reclamation of coal mined lands; in fact, it was the second state to pass laws to regulate mining in 1941. Because state laws varied, a federal law requiring mine reclamation was passed in 1977. Prior to 1941 and with some of the early laws, land was abandoned or not reclaimed in a manner that could support productive uses. These sites can be dangerous as well as a source of water pollution.

Modern laws prohibit a coal operator from abandoning a site and performance bond is held in the Division until all reclamation is completed. Once in a while an operator will not reclaim a site, thus requiring the revocation of the permit and forfeiture of the bond so that the land can be reclaimed under private contract. AML staff administer the reclamation projects for these bond forfeiture sites.

What you need to know

We offer a guide to help the public and local officials further understand potential problems associated with previously mined areas.

These problems may be associated with both underground and surface mined sites and can result in serious damage to improvements.

Previously mined land may have many attractive features for development as residential, industrial and recreational sites.

Hidden dangers such as dangerous mine openings, unstable highwalls, and unpredictable ground movement have resulted in serious damages to improvements on these sites. Additional problems can result from subsidence, mine spoils, mine impoundments, and landslides.

The Indiana Division of Reclamation always suggests obtaining assistance from a qualified engineer for specific site evaluation before you buy or build on previously mined land. A list of resources is provided at the end of this booklet for additional information.

Common problems