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 AML Program 2016 Annual Accomplishments 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.
The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement administers 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: