Officials Plan to Plug Abandoned Mine Shafts Outside Las Vegas

February 26, 2018

State and county officials are teaming up to plug abandoned mine shafts left behind at a century-old gypsum mining operation southwest of Las Vegas.

Clark County and the Nevada Division of Minerals are jointly funding the $250,000 project to backfill at least 40 mine shafts on county-owned land, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday.

The county commission on Tuesday approved $150,000 for the effort. Crews are expected to begin work on plugging the holes in April. The work is expected to last about a month.

The Arden Mine operated on the land from 1909 to 1931, said Garrett Wake, the southern Nevada chief for the division.

The division has made dozens of attempts in recent years to barricade the openings of the shafts, which pose safety hazards. The fencing has often been removed, vandalized or ignored.

The caverns have drawn hikers, vandals and squatters. Officials hope that plugging the holes will eliminate the safety risks.

Wake said the full extent of the mine shafts is not known, but they could extend for several miles.

State wildlife officials have already conducted surveys at the mine sites to check desert tortoise or other protected animals have made homes in the shafts.

The division has identified 21,841 hazardous mine openings across the state. Through its Abandoned Mine Lands Program, the division has overseen efforts to secure 17,505 of the openings.

The division gives priority to securing hazardous mine sites that are near populated areas.

The state has estimated that there are about 200,000 abandoned mine features across Nevada. About 50,000 of those mines are considered likely hazardous.

The state has recorded at least 20 deaths and about two dozen injures related to abandoned mines since 1961. None have been reported since 2014.

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