WEBINAR: From Tails to Tech: Can Abandoned Mines be a Win-Win for Energy Security and the Environment?

In the coming decades, demand for critical minerals needed for advanced technologies like solar panels, electric vehicles (EVs), and defense applications is expected to drastically rise, potentially requiring the opening of hundreds of new mines and increasing the United States’ reliance on China. While the United States produces small quantities of some critical minerals, new mines often face pushback from surrounding communities and environmental groups. But what role could inactive, orphaned, and abandoned mines play in meeting the coming mineral demand?

SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy and Trout Unlimited hosted a webinar examining the role of abandoned mines across the country, many of which include contaminated piles of tailings and waste rock that could potentially contain previously overlooked quantities of critical minerals the United States and its allies desperately need, such as cobalt and nickel. Reprocessing existing mine waste on inactive or abandoned mine lands could help society achieve clean energy and advanced technology goals while preserving untouched landscapes and reclaiming contaminated ones.


  • Update from Darcy McPhee, Program Manager, USGS Earth MRI Program, on mapping existing mine waste required within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Moderated panel discussion featuring:
    • Stephen D’Esposito, CEO, Resolve and Regeneration
    • Dan West, Director of Public Policy, Rivian
    • Kevin Ramsay, Manager, BHP Arizona Legacy Assets

USGS Webinar Slides