Voluntary waste, (sometimes called affirmative waste) is any change made to the estate that intentionally or negligently causes harm to the estate or depletes its resources, unless this depletion is a continuation of a pre-existing use. Some jurisdictions follow what is called the open mines doctrine, which permits continued excavation from any mine on the property that is already open, but prohibits the opening of new mines. However, the majority of jurisdictions now follow a doctrine that allows any activity necessary to continue the exploitation of a particular resource, if the land has already been used for that purpose.
- Example: If there is a copper mine on the land, the current tenant can continue the mining operation to the point of extracting all available copper. If there were no such mine there originally, and the lease did not anticipate the mine, excavating property would constitute waste.