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Research — Abandoned Mine Lands

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There are 3 projects that match your criteria:
Inventory of historic uranium mines
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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.

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Critical Minerals in Mine Wastes

There are tens of thousands of inactive mine features in 274 mining districts in New Mexico (including coal, uranium, metals, and industrial minerals districts). However, many of these mines have not been inventoried or prioritized for reclamation or reprocessing. Many of these mines have existing mine wastes, generated during mineral production, which could have potential for critical minerals, especially since the actual mineral production was generally for precious and base metals and not critical minerals. The purpose of this project is to inventory, characterize and estimate the critical mineral endowment of mine wastes using USGS sampling procedures. This project is important to the state of New Mexico because critical mineral resources must be identified before land exchanges, withdrawals or other land use decisions are made by government officials. Future mining of mine wastes that potentially contain critical minerals will directly benefit the economy of New Mexico. Possible re-mining and/or reprocessing of mine wastes could clean up these sites and pay for reclamation. Furthermore, this project will include training of younger, professional geologists and students in economic and reclamation geology by the PIs.

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Uranium Transport and Sources in New Mexico: A five-year EPSCoR program
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In 2013, a team of New Mexico Tech researchers began a study of uranium transport, uranium source characteristics, and uranium legacy issues in New Mexico. The effort was funded by Energize New Mexico, a five-year NSF EPSCoR program that concluded in 2018 and that encompassed five research components focused on developing non-carbon emitting energy technologies. The uranium team, which included researchers from UNM, addressed uranium deposits and mine waste mainly in the Grants Mining District, including Laguna Pueblo, and on Navajo Nation lands. These uranium studies span a range of science and engineering disciplines, and not only provide new conclusions impacting remediation, hazard management, and uranium extraction, but hold implications for human health.

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