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Mining & Reclamation

New York is rich in minerals which are mined for industrial and construction uses. Sand and gravel mines are found throughout the state; about 90 percent of the state's 2,100 active mines extract sand and gravel. Metal ores and gem minerals, such as garnet, are mined chiefly in mountainous regions. Salt is extracted from rich deposits in Central New York. Since the enactment of the mined land reclamation law in 1975, some 4,800 mines have received state permits.

Mining is a $1.5 billion industry in New York State; New York is among the top third in the nation in value of minerals produced. The Division of Mineral Resources carries out the important responsibilities of protecting the environment when minerals are extracted, and of seeing to it that the land is restored when mining is complete.

In New York, regulated mining operations have an approved mining plan that specifies how mining will take place, and an approved reclamation plan that provided for return to productive use. Financial security submitted by the mining permit applicant ensures that the land will be reclaimed. Since the state Mined Land Reclamation Law was enacted in 1975, more than 2,500 mines have been reclaimed, most of these by the mine operators. In the small number of cases where the operators have defaulted on their obligation to reclaim, DEC has seized the financial security and used it to carry out the reclamation.

Today, sites in New York State that were once mined are used as farms, wetlands, wildlife habitats, residential developments and public recreation areas. Mined land reclamation is an environmental success story in New York.

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