Scarcity of mineral supplies globally means that there is an international effort to examine the potential to extract resources from mine wastes. Such sites are often perceived as degraded and of little value. However, many sites are protected for their ecological, geological or historical significance. This paper examines the scale of the association between these designations and former mineral extraction sites in England and Wales. Around 69,000 mines (44%) are co-located with some form of designation; ranging from 27% of sand and gravel quarries in Wales to 84% of metal mines in England. Some designations are coincidental to mining and may benefit from resource recovery combined with remediation activities, others exist due to previous mining activities and may be adversely affected. This creates a tension in the long-term management of former mineral extraction, which should be considered when assessing the potential for, and desirability of, resource recovery.