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MO DNR takes new look at mining waste

Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The United States Geological Survey recently announced the award of $241,301 over a two-year period to the Missouri Geological Survey through the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative Mine Waste Program. The grant will fund a mine waste inventory for Missouri and a pilot project to characterize historical mine waste tailings.

“Understanding mine waste, its characteristics, and where it’s located is key to Missouri’s public health and future economy,” said geologist Kyle Ganz, MGS’s principal investigator for the project.

“Mining has taken place since the 1700s in some regions of Missouri. Many of these historic mines were seeking iron back then, and nothing else,” he said. “Critical minerals may be present in the mine waste tailings of these locations which the original miners had no idea even existed.”

The USGS award specifically funds three priorities for the Missouri Geological Survey:

Priority 1 will receive $50,000 to create a mine waste inventory for Missouri. This effort will survey and map all known locations of historic mines across the state.

Priority 2 will receive $187,301 to study mine waste at the Pea Ridge Mine in southeastern Missouri. The analysis will characterize the tailings for the presence of critical minerals.

Priority 3 will receive $4,000 for two Missouri Geological Survey staff to attend the 2023 Earth MRI Workshop in Reston, Virginia.

This competitive award is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, with additional opportunities to apply for this funding annually through 2026.

“We chose Pea Ridge Mine tailings as our first project because it was the appropriate size and we had site access permission from the landowner,” Ganz said. “Once this project is complete, we will look to apply for future funding to characterize other mine waste areas in Missouri.”

USGS reviewed 15 proposals from state geological surveys this year for funding through its Earth MRI Mine Waste Program. Missouri received full funding for its submitted proposal.

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