Community advocacy group commends passage of gold mining legislation by Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2021

Buckingham, VA – The passage of House Bill 2213 by the Virginia State Senate on Tuesday was commended by Friends of Buckingham, a community advocacy group known for its work to protect Buckingham County and the community of Union Hill from the now-canceled Atlantic Coast pipeline.  The group has strongly advocated for the bill, which was developed in response to the revelation that a Canadian mining exploration company, Aston Bay Holdings, LTD, had been performing exploratory drilling for gold for four years without the knowledge of the local Buckingham community until relatively recently.  HB2213 would allow for the study of commercial gold mining and the impacts that such operations would have on watersheds and communities.  Because the Senate made amendments to the bill, it will now go to conference with the House of Delegates.

 

While the community is disappointed that Senators removed a temporary moratorium on the issuance of commercial gold mining permits that was originally included in the bill, they are happy to see the study mandated by the bill moving forward. Community members know that a study is essential to evaluate the adequacy of Virginia’s laws to regulate commercial gold operations, which haven’t been seen in the Commonwealth since 1947, and is crucial to protect Virginians in the gold-pyrite belt that spans across the state – especially since the study would be done specific to the geography and climate of Virginia, and with input from the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and impacted communities.  The potential dangers to water quality and public health from commercial gold mining, which oftentimes uses cyanide for ore processing and dewatering for maintaining mine sites, are numerous, and the community is certain the study will draw light to the harms that would happen to adjacent and downstream communities. 

 

Chad Oba, president of Friends of Buckingham, said, “We are thankful that the Senate acknowledges how crucial a study is on commercial gold mining in Virginia, especially since commercial gold mining hasn’t been seen in the Commonwealth since the 1940’s.  Having undergone the threat of environmental injustice from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, we know firsthand the need for evaluating the impacts of toxic industries – in this case gold mining, which is the latest to target Buckingham County and could impact communities adjacent to and downstream of the gold/pyrite belt that spans across Virginia.  We will be following the study closely and are ready to pursue whatever is necessary to ensure we are heard and protected.”

 

To learn more on the threats of gold mining to the local community, please see this short video, and 3 maps of impacted communities. For more information, please reach out to Friends of Buckingham at info@friendsofbuckinghamva.org or 434-806-6332 or visit their website.

CONTACT

Chad Oba, President, Friends of Buckingham

chado108@me.com 

434-806-6332

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