Surface mining for coal in Missouri has a 100 year history beginning with the use of steam shovels in the early 1900s. There is potential desirable coal in Missouri because of it bituminous rank, but the coal beds are relatively thin and are a high cost to mine. Early surface coal mining fueled the energy needed for regional economies to grow and significantly contributed to the economy of WWII and the energy needed afterward for a growing population. Most of the surface coal mining in Missouri took place before the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (the federal law that governs the activities of surface coal mining and reclamation in the United States). 

Fees and Permits

Please contact Land Reclamation Program staff for information about fees and forms for obtaining a permit to mine coal.

Report a Problem about Coal Mine Sites

Report a problem by calling us at 573-751-4041. If you prefer to report online, please use our Report an Environmental Concern form. The online form allows you to provide your contact information or to report anonymously. 

Report a Problem about Coal Mine Sites
(Mining took place after Aug. 3, 1977)

Your concern should be directed to the Land Reclamation Program. You have a right to report a coal mining site you believe is operating contrary to the law. For additional information or assistance please call or send a letter to us. By regulation, Land Reclamation Program staff may only formally investigate complaints when they are submitted in writing in the form a signed letter. If you do not want your information shared with the company, your identity will remain confidential and the complaint will be filed as anonymous. If you choose to remain anonymous please state so in your letter. 

Report a Problem about Abandoned Coal Mine Sites
(Mining took place before Aug. 3, 1977)

Your concern should be directed to the Land Reclamation Program. Today, coal operators are required to reclaim their sites when mining is completed. This was not always the case. Prior to passage of SMCRA, many mines were abandoned, leaving behind thousands of acres of scarred and useless land that have public safety hazards and environmental problems. Examples of these problems are dangerous highwalls, open portals and air shafts, and burning mine refuse (gob). SMCRA established a reclamation fund to finance restoration of mined land that was abandoned prior Aug. 3, 1977. Program staff also administers the AML Emergency Program and can respond within 24 hours when abandoned coal mine problems that suddenly occur and may be life-threatening. 

Laws and Regulations

State Laws and Regulations

Chapter 444, RSMo 

Federal Laws and Regulations

In 1977, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) set forth the laws that regulate coal mining and reclamation. They also established the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) that is charged with carrying out the implementation and enforcement, nationwide.  As one of the forerunners of cooperative federalism, they encourage states to implement their own laws and regulations that are as effective as the federal laws and regulations to allow for differences for geographic region. 

Viewers and Tools

  • Abandoned Mine Lands Viewer – Identify locations that have been the subject of reclamation of coal mining activities
  • GeoSTRAT – Locate mines, springs, sinkholes and more

Reports and Publications