Abandoned mine lands are areas — land, water and surrounding watersheds — where ore and mineral mining or processing has occurred. As the ore and minerals were extracted and eventually depleted, mining operations were abandoned or moved to other locations. These abandoned areas pose physical safety and environmental hazards.  

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Land Reclamation Program was established in 1974, to regulate present mining operations and reduce or eliminate the issues caused by past coal mining operations. Abandoned mine land reclamation took a giant step forward in 1977, when the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 95-87, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, or SMCRA. The act outlined specific requirements for reclaiming lands mined after May 2, 1977. It also established programs and funding for reclaiming abandoned mine lands. In January 1982, Missouri received approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining to operate Missouri's abandoned mine land program and conduct reclamation work in Missouri.

Missouri's Abandoned Mine Land Program is administered by the Land Reclamation Program's Abandoned Mine Land section. Most abandoned mine lands in Missouri do not require reclamation and provide wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities such as hunting and fishing. The department offers technical assistance to owners of abandoned coal mine lands. Staff can provide expertise in soils, revegetation and water quality. For more information about Missouri's Abandoned Mine Land Program, review the department's Abandoned Mine Lands - PUB2066 fact sheet. Please contact us for technical assistance or to report issues that relate to coal mines. 


Missouri's first reclamation project was completed in November 1982. Most projects have been located on private land. Every two years, department staff produce an annual report. This biennial report provides information and statistical summaries concerning the activities and business accomplishments of the Land Reclamation Program and its efforts to reclaim mined land. Listed below are the two most recent reports. For copies of older reports, please submit an Open Records/ Sunshine Law Request.

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Public Law 95-87 requires that the department reclaim the highest priority abandoned coal mine sites before addressing problems created by mining other commodities. The department's Land Reclamation Program, Abandoned Mine Land Section has made significant progress in eliminating public health, safety and environmental problems from past mining areas. The order in which most abandoned mine land is reclaimed is determined by classifying the land into one of three categories: 

  • Priority I: Protecting public health, safety and general welfare from extreme danger resulting from the adverse effects of past coal mining practices. 
  • Priority II: Protecting public health, safety and general welfare from the adverse effects of past coal mining practices that do not constitute extreme danger. 
  • Priority III: Restoring land and water resources and the environment previously degraded by the adverse effects of past coal mining practices. 

Health and safety problems (Priority I and II) include dangerous mine refuse piles and embankments, burning coal refuse, highwalls, subsidence, open shafts, hazardous mining facilities and polluted water used for agricultural and human consumption. Environmental problems (Priority III) include bare acidic spoils and coal refuse that pollute water through soil erosion, sedimentation and acid mine drainage. 


Reclamation costs are solely the responsibility of the Land Reclamation Program's Abandoned Mine Land section, which is funded by a federal tax on coal since 1978. Since Oct. 1, 2021, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Enforcement and Reclamation has collected the tax from producing coal companies: 22.4 cents per ton of surface mined coal, 9.6 cents per ton of coal mined underground and 6.4 cents per ton for Lignite. Money collected from coal mining is deposited into the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund. The Office of Surface Mining disperses these funds through grants to the states as directed by the U.S. Congress. 

Missouri and other midwestern states have received decreasing amounts of abandoned mine land funds due to declining coal production since 1994. Congress included a minimum base funding amount in the abandoned mine land appropriation to allow states with significant coal mine problems, but limited coal production, to continue their programs. Missouri now receives the minimum program funding amount for abandoned mine land reclamation, approximately $3 million per year. 

When the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), was enacted in November 2021, over $11 billion in new funding was authorized to be appropriated for deposit into the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. Additionally, the law extended the abandoned mine land fee collections and mandatory grant distributions. The authority to collect the Title IV abandoned mine land reclamation fee now expires Sept. 30, 2034. The distribution amounts are now based on the number of tons of coal historically produced in each state or from the applicable Indian lands before Aug. 3, 1977. Using the new formula, Missouri’s anticipated annual grant amount is approximately $5.8 million, subject to any required adjustments, for 15 years following the enactment of the law.