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Mined Land Reclamation - 2015 Summary & Trends

Mineral Production, Market Value and Economic Impact

Mining occurs in every region of New York State except the New York City area, as shown on the map entitled "Mines in New York" (see link below). The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the annual value of New York's mineral production in 2011 at $1.34 billion. The estimated economic impact from mining in New York in 2011 (the most recent year for which this data is available) is $4.98 billion.

Production of the state's major mined commodities remains relatively constant from year to year. In 2011, New York ranked sixteenth nationally in terms of overall nonfuel mineral production. Nationally, New York ranked first in industrial garnet production, third in salt, sixth in construction sand and gravel, seventh in dimension stone, eleventh in common clay, and fourteenth in crushed stone. New York remains the sole domestic producer of wollastonite. New York is also a significant producer of masonry cement and portland cement.

The Center for Governmental Research, Inc. (CGR) document entitled "The Economic Impact of the New York State Mining and Construction Materials Industry, October 2011" prepared for the New York State Geological Survey/New York State Museum states that the majority of mining in New York is for construction materials used to build and maintain the state's infrastructure. The mined commodities, in addition to the hot mixed asphalt, ready mix concrete and cement industries, were responsible for generating $1.2 to $1.3 billion in wages and 28,000 to 30,000 jobs in New York State. CGR estimates the mining and construction materials industry contributes about $100 million in public sector revenues (sales tax, personal income tax, motor fuel tax, corporate franchise tax and Mined Land Reclamation Law fees). The Division assessed $4.16 million in regulatory program fees in 2015, which is slightly lower than the amount assessed in 2014.

Types of Mines and Mineral Usage

The most common mine types in 2015 were sand and gravel (1,558), bluestone (90), and limestone (88). In 2015, New York had 1,929 active mines, a decrease of 23 mines from 2014. The majority of these mines produced sand and gravel or other surficial deposits such as glacial till, clay or topsoil. Sand and gravel mines account for over 81% of DEC-regulated mines. Eighteen of the new mining permits issued in 2015, or 62%, were for sand and gravel.

There were 324 hardrock mines producing material ranging from bluestone, limestone, sandstone, shale and salt, to less common products such as wollastonite. Most of New York's hardrock mines are surface quarries, but there are several permitted underground mines.

The Mineral Information Institute reports that "every American born will consume 3.11 million pounds of minerals, metals and fuels in his or her lifetime." In addition to recycled materials, nearly 39,543 pounds of new minerals must be provided every year for the things that every person in the United States uses.

Permitting and Reclamation Statistics

The number of permitted mines has declined for 17 consecutive years. Mine operators continued to replace production by expanding current mines, rather than opening new ones. This trend held true for sand and gravel mines while the total number of hardrock quarries remained nearly the same. Only 29 of the 421 Mined Land Reclamation Permits issued in 2015 were for new facilities.

A total of 48,100 acres were affected by mining in 2015 out of a total approved life-of-mine area of 126,985 acres. All affected acreage must be reclaimed at the conclusion of mining operations. Concurrent reclamation can be accomplished immediately upon completion of a portion or "phase" of a mine while mining occurs elsewhere within the life of mine area, or reclamation of the entire affected area can occur when mining has stopped, known as final reclamation. The Division of Mineral Resources continues to have success promoting concurrent reclamation with 521 acres reclaimed at 71 operating mines in 2015. Final reclamation of 305 acres occurred at 42 closed mines bringing the 2015 total to 826 acres. Roughly 36,560 acres of land affected by mining have been reclaimed since 1975.

In 2015, DMN held $268.4 million in financial security to guarantee mine site reclamation.

Inspections

In 2015, Mined Land staff performed 1,956 mine inspections and traveled 117,145 miles. Staff inspect mine sites:

  • during permit application review;
  • during operation for general compliance;
  • to ensure that violations are remediated;
  • to ensure that reclamation meets requirements; and
  • to investigate complaints.

2015 Annual Report: