New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 7, 2017
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An Abandoned Uranium Mine Survey of Mine Sites in New Mexico
Annelia Tinklenberg1 and Robert Sengebush1
In 2006, the Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) began developing a uranium mine inventory to detail all past uranium mining sites in New Mexico, including reclamation efforts at these sites. This uranium mine inventory compiled information from multiple sources including a database developed at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, MMD records, and records from other state, federal and tribal agencies. From these sources, MMD developed a list of 260 mine locations that reported production of uranium to state and federal agencies. Of these 260 uranium-producing mine locations, MMD found that 137 mine locations had no record of reclamation overseen by an agency. These 137 mining locations with no record of reclamation became priority locations for a systematic abandoned uranium mine survey of the potential or existing environmental condition at each site. After contacting landowners for access and developing field data packages, INTERA used a GeoXM GPS and Ludlum scintillometer to conduct the abandoned uranium mine survey for 55 of the abandoned uranium mine sites. The greatest obstacle for conducting the abandoned uranium mine surveys was gaining site access permission. Records from the counties and the State Land Office were utilized to determine land owners and find contact information prior to the field visit. Fourteen (14) sites were not surveyed due to landowners denying access or the land ownership status could not be resolved. Each abandoned uranium mine survey consisted of site mapping and description of existing features, identification of current human activity and land use, a radiological survey, description of vegetation and wildlife, identification of the soils, a summary of hydrogeology, and photo documentation. A site assessment report, including maps, and a geodatabase were developed for each abandoned uranium mine surveyed. Completing the abandoned uranium mine surveys provided MMD with the information necessary to prioritize legacy sites for reclamation.
2017 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 7, 2017, Macey Center, New Mexico Tech campus, Socorro, NM