Abandoned mines are an unfortunate legacy of the mining eras around the world. Although there are people are attracted to the idea of exploring mines, such a practice is dangerous and not recommended. In general, abandoned mines pose serious safety and environmental hazards.
Some of the concerns posed by abandoned mine lands (AML) are for the physical safety of those who use the land near the abandoned mines. There are often recreational areas, national roads or by ways, and campgrounds near abandoned mines, leading to the increased danger of people inadvertently falling into an abandoned mine or deliberately entering such a mine to “explore.”
There is also a concern for people who ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the proximity of such mines. There have been numerous instances of riders falling into mines they were unaware existed.
Environmental concerns are another issue caused by abandoned mines. There are often high concentrations of minerals at these old mine sites, and these high mineral concentrations frequently leech into the surrounding ground water. This causes problems for the plants, animals and humans living in the vicinity.
Recreational fishers often fish in waterways adjoining or near abandoned mines. Fish in these waters have often absorbed the dangerously concentrated levels of minerals and contaminants from the water, and pass those minerals onto the humans and animals that eat them.
Contaminated water poses other problems, particularly in terms of ground water contamination that moves into the municipal water systems or the wells used for drinking water.
Uranium mines pose unique problems, as the specter of radiation exposure is a constant concern. Such exposure may come from waste materials stored near the site or water.
Surface mines cause problems with runoff and sediment build up, as well as advanced erosion, and tailings are subject to wind erosion, spreading potentially dangerous chemicals.