State officials have awarded a contract to begin safeguarding more than two dozen abandoned mines near Deming.
The Mining and Minerals Division says the $475,000 contract with Duran Bokich Enterprises represents the first of a multiple-phase project involving old mines in the Florida and Little Florida Mountains. The mines are on private property and land managed by the federal government.
Before 1918, the ores recovered from mines in the area were mostly lead, zinc, silver, copper and some gold. After that, manganese and fluorite were produced in large quantities.
An incentive program started by the federal government boosted production of manganese ore. The program ended in 1959 and every manganese mine in Luna County had closed within two years.
Officials say most of the mines were abandoned, with little or no safeguarding of the openings.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.