Minerals and Mining Program - Abandoned Mined Lands Information
Important: Abandoned mines are dangerous and should not be visited in the field. The abandoned mine inventory is not intended to encourage or facilitate people visiting these sites in the field. This is particularly important due to hazards that can be present. Children should never be brought onto these sites. Most of the sites are on private land and access without permission may constitute trespass.
In 1998, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) completed a comprehensive inventory of known inactive and abandoned mine lands (IAMs) in the Black Hills. The inventory, which was conducted under contract by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, fulfilled the requirements of SDCL 45-6B-100 enacted in 1993. The database includes information on old, historic mines operated by the "old time" miners many years before environmental laws required reclamation. It identifies approximately 900 hardrock IAM sites within a specified area of Meade, Lawrence, Pennington, and Custer counties. Of the 900 inventoried sites, about 200 are located on U.S. Forest Service land and about 700 on private land. The inventory includes information on the locations of known abandoned mine sites (mainly from conducting a literature search of available information on abandoned mines) and the results of random field verification conducted at about 10 percent of the private sites identified in the literature.
DENR updates the abandoned mine inventory as new sites are identified, but because DENR’s regulatory mission involves active mining operations, the department does not perform ongoing investigation to identify additional abandoned mine lands and the database remains largely unchanged since it’s completion in 1997. The database is still a useful tool for identification of abandoned historic mines, but a more up-to-date inventory is available through the US Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Data System, https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/ .
The state of South Dakota does not have an abandoned mine reclamation program or funds to reclaim IAM sites identified in the Black Hills.
To obtain a copy of the abandoned mined land database or more information on inactive and abandoned mines, please contact Eric Holm or call (605) 773-4201.