Research by John Asafo-Akowuah, who completed his master’s degree with Dr. Virginia McLemore, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, in 2017.This research is one of several Energize New MexicoEPSCoR projects focusing on uranium mineralization and mine-site remediation.
Although no uranium mines are operating in New Mexico today, the legacy of the mining industry requires continuing evaluation and remediation of inactive or abandoned mine features, which number around 300 for the uranium industry alone. The sites of mining activities can offer physical and chemical threats to individuals, communities and the environment. Dr. Virginia McLemore has assembled a team of New Mexico Tech students to evaluate mine sites throughout New Mexico as part of the Abandoned Mine Lands Project.
John Asafo-Akowuah surveyed the sites of three uranium mines in New Mexico (shown in the map to the right) – Jeter, Lucky Don and Little Davie mines – evaluating physical hazards, geochemistry and general layout. Below is a summary of his findings. A detailed description is included in his final report.
- There was no acid mine drainage associated with these mines.
- Scintillometer readings found elevated radiation in the waste-rock piles.
- The waste-rock piles showed evidence of weathering, which could indicate mobilization of contaminants.
- Waste rock pile estimates: 100,000 ft3 at Jeter Mine and 32,000 ft3 at Lucky Don Mine.
- Pristine and weathered uranium and vanadium minerals were identified.
New Mexico EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is intended to improve the state’s ability to do scientific research. It is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) award #IIA-1301346.
- Asafo-Akowuah1, John; McLemore, Virginia T.; and Zutah1, William, 2017, New Mexico Abandoned Uranium Mines Study: Jeter, Lucky Don, and Little Davie mines, Socorro County, New Mexico, Earth & Environmental Science Department: Independent Study, 55 p.