NewsFront RangeDenver


State Division of Reclamation says there are 23,000 abandoned mines in Colorado

6,127 have been closed and made safe
Posted at 6:54 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 21:10:04-05

CENTRAL CITY, Colo. -- The dramatic rescue of a teenager from an old mine shaft in Golden had us wondering: how many abandoned mines are there in Colorado? Turns out, a lot.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) oversees the safeguarding and closing of abandoned mines.

It estimates there are about 23,000 abandoned mines statewide, and so far, 6,127 have been closed.

"Abandoned mines will kill you," Matt Collins, a mining engineer and adjunct professor at the Colorado School of Mines, told Denver7. "I remember closing mines 20 years ago, and here we are, we're still closing today so it's gonna be a long process."

Collins is trained to perform rescues and said the dangers of old mines are never worth the risk.

"Biggest risk is the big three -- falling, number one; having the ground fall on you; and then bad atmosphere."

He said the message is simple: Stay out, stay alive.

"If you see a hazardous opening like this at all, contact the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, they'd be happy to close it," Collins said.

DRMS said it receives, on average, $2 million each year for mine safeguarding work. The average cost of each closure is about $5,000.

The state said it is currently working to close the old mine shaft where the teen was trapped in Golden.

"We've got so many and people forget that Colorado is built upon mining," he said. "Stay out, stay alive."