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Michigan Abandoned Underground Mine Inventory Project

Updated April 1998

Prepared by Dr. Allan M. Johnson, Project Director & Director, Mineral Technology Research Group, Department of Mining Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan and Milton A. Gere Jr., Project Contract Administrator and Geologist, Real Estate Division, Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan

Executive Summary

A project to document abandoned underground mines in Michigan began when a $200,000 contract was awarded to Michigan Technological University (MTU) by the Michigan Department of Natrural Resources (MDNR) in September of 1995.

The objectives of the project are to conduct an inventory, document, and map abandoned underground mines in the State of Michigan and, based on field assessments, identify and rank mines having unsafe conditions. In Michigan there are more than 700 closed underground mines and more than 2000 shafts. Copper and iron ore mines in the western Upper Peninsula are most abundant, but there are also a smaller number of non-metallic underground mines in the Lower Peninsula (coal, gypsum, salt). Early work concentrated on computerizing information from mine maps to show the extent of underground workings and the locations of shafts. The contract requires these data to be compatible with MIRIS (Michigan Resource Information System --- Michigan's GIS geographical information system). This phase ia approximately 90% complete

Additionaly, a standardized form to record uniform statistical data on each of the mines has been designed. Data includes location, ore type, production, dates of production, ownership, mining method used, number of shafts including depths, dimensions, and other relevant data. These forms will be combined into county reports. This phase is about 85% complete.

Lastly, field inspections are being made at each of the mines to ascertain the condition of mine shafts relative to public safety. To facilitate this work, cooperation is being sought from mining company personnel, county mine inspectors and other knowledgeable individuals willing to contribute their expertise. This phase is about 20% complete.

Information from field inspections will be used to determine which shafts should be filled, capped, fenced or otherwise fixed to protect the public.

The final product will be a number of comprehensive reports on the abandoned underground mines in Michigan on a county-by-county basis supplemented by the computerized MIRIS data base that show mapped details of the extent of workings, shafts, and surface features. These reports should be useful for mine inspectors, local planners and developers and anyone interested in the rich mining heritage of Michigan.

Although not a requirement of the contract, attributes of the abandoned mines are also being documented. Attributes include such things as the historical value of a mine site, the potential value of waste rock or mine tailings, the possibility of utilizing water in the flooded mine workings, the suitability of mines for bat hibernation or for specialized agricultural purposes, utilizing mine workings for underground storage, and a host of other potential social/economic uses.

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