Division of Minerals
Results in Brief
The Division of Minerals significantly improved its program to
abate hazardous conditions existing at abandoned mines since our 1991 audit.
The Division has established procedures to ensure collection of fees to
fund this program and to notify owners about their responsibility to secure
hazardous conditions. As a result of the Division's actions to implement
the 1991 audit recommendations, its collection rate for fees due from mining
operators has increased from 50% to 100%.
The Division can make further program improvements by conducting timely
ownership research after it investigates abandoned mines and by promptly
securing mines that do not have an owner (orphan mines). In addition, to
fully comply with laws and regulations significant to this program, the
Division needs to revise its procedures for notifying counties of
hazardous abandoned mines. These improvements may prevent accidents
from occurring at hazardous mines investigated by the Division.
The Division significantly improved its process for collecting fees from
mining operators. In our 1991 audit, we estimated the Division failed to
collect half of the fees due from mining operators. As a result of the
Division's actions to establish collection procedures, its collection rate
has increased from 50% in 1991 to 100% in 1997. (page 8)
The Division does not always conduct timely research to determine who is
responsible for securing abandoned mines. Eleven of 26 high hazard mines
were not researched by the Division for more than one year after investigation.
Timely ownership research will speed up the securing of abandoned mines.
When the Division conducted timely ownership research, 7 mines were secured
an average of 119 days after investigation. However, because of untimely
research, seven mines remained unsecured for more than a year as of June
30, 1997. (page 11)
High hazard orphan mines are not always secured timely by the Division.
Of the 12 high hazard orphan mines investigated by the Division during
fiscal years 1996 and 1997, 6 were secured within 5 days. The other six
mines remained unsecured an average of 138 days, as of June 30, 1997. (page
The Division did not notify Nevada counties of all dangerous conditions
found in each county as required by statute. Of 26 high hazard mines we
tested, counties were not notified of 8 high hazard mines. In addition,
it took the Division more than a year to notify the counties of five high
hazard mines. (page 14)
to Audit Recommendations
1 Develop policies, procedures, and performance
measures to ensure timely
for high hazard mines..........................................
2 Develop policies, procedures, and performance
measures to ensure high
hazard orphan mines
are secured timely...............................................
3 Notify Nevada counties of all dangerous conditions
as required by NRS 513.094(2)............................