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Division of Mineral Mining

Orphan Land Program

Permitting & Licensing  | Certification  | Education & Training  | Award Programs  | Orphaned Mines

"Orphaned" mineral mined lands are those areas disturbed by the mining of all minerals, except coal, which were not required by law to be reclaimed or have not been reclaimed. Virginia’s General Assembly enacted reclamation laws in 1968 to minimize the adverse effects of mining on the environment. Recognizing that past mining practices had left many orphaned or unreclaimed mine sites, a proposal was made to study the extent of orphaned mines in Virginia. Learn more about the impact of mining »

Image of before and after Vesuvius Mine

As a result of a proposal by the mining industry, legislation was enacted in 1978, which established a non-coal orphaned land reclamation program. Funds for the reclamation of orphaned mines are obtained from interest monies earned from a state managed industry self-bonding program. Mine operators participating in the program make payments into the Mineral Reclamation Fund based on the acreage disturbed by their operations. The fund assures that active mines will be reclaimed and participation is mandatory under Virginia’s Mineral Mining law. Additional funding is obtained by actively soliciting environmental grants to leverage the interest monies to the maximum extent possible. Learn more about the history of the Orphaned Land Program »

There are an estimated 4,000 orphan mines in the Commonwealth, 69% of which have been inventoried (2013). Once identified, an orphaned mine site is evaluated for its potential hazards to the environment and the public’s health and safety. This evaluation includes soil and water investigations, studies on the feasibility of reclaiming the site, cost analysis, and seeking the landowner’s consent to allow reclamation to proceed.

The first orphaned land site was reclaimed in 1981. Since then, 125 orphaned land projects have been completed encompassing 650 acres at a cost of $3,715,301 (2013). The average cost of reclamation per acre has been $5,715.84.

Report an Orphan Mine