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 and historic coal share. 100 percent of the construction and administrative expenses are reimbursed back to the AML Program through annual grants from the Federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE). The Surface Mine Reclamation and Control Act of 1977 also requires States to have a State Reclamation Plan approved by OSMRE to operate an Abandoned Mine Land Program. View Indiana's current approved State Reclamation Plan.
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.
- Feb. 14, 2023 - DNR to receive $385 million for reclamation
- Oct. 20, 2022 - DNR Reclamation to receive regional award
- Sept. 8, 2020 - DNR Reclamation to receive regional award
- Sept. 4, 2019 - DNR Reclamation to receive regional award
- Aug. 27, 2018 - DNR Reclamation received regional award
- Sept. 5, 2017 - DNR Reclamation project wins regional award
The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement administer the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards to highlight outstanding AML projects on an annual basis. The state of Indiana has won several of these awards in recent years. Summaries (PDF) of each project:
- 2022 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 1804, Surprise Pit
- 2020 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 1820, Buttermilk Highwalls
- 2019 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 1805, Narrow Lake
- 2018 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 882, Snow Hill
- 2017 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 2083 Sugar Ridge Fish & Wildlife Area 2
- 2016 Mid-Continent Runner-Up: Site 2147 Loge School Grouting
- 2015 Mid-Continent Regional Award: Site 2052 Minnehaha Slurry
- 2014 National Award: Site 309 Mill Creek Highwall