Hello, I am a concerned citizen and Community College student at Montgomery College just across the border in Maryland, I am writing today In regards to Resolution HB 2213 discussing the allowance of Gold mining in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Gold mining is an activity that is highly destructive to the environment, it can lead to severe water contamination, destroy habitats and displace communities. For this reason, the commonwealth of Virginia should not allow gold mining in the state. While the bill will have to pass inspections from the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and will include input from Native American communities who depend on the land the drilling will take place on, it's still an unjustifiable risk for little to no reward. The existing regulations for air and water pollution aren’t enough to protect the environment from the degradation caused by gold mining. Three-quarters of the world's gold overlap with regions of high conservation value often destroying these areas and causing a great deal of harm to the environment.
The environmental impacts of gold mining greatly outweigh the economic benefit, especially since it’s a Canadian company that’s interested in the drilling so the profits of the activity wouldn’t even benefit the local economy rather it’d benefit Canadian corporations. Most of the revenue made from the operation would be pumped into the Canadian economy as that is where this corporation is based and therefore it’ll mostly be the Canadian government collecting the money from such a large operation. Additionally, the jobs it will bring to the local area will have a minimal effect on boosting the economy when compared to the damage it’ll cause to the surrounding infrastructure and the health of the general population.
One gold ring produces 20 tons of waste, in fact, mining produces tons of chemical waste as it results in the dumping of arsenic, lead, mercury, and cyanide into rivers and streams at dangerously high rates. 180 tonnes of chemical waste is dumped into the water annually as a result of gold mining this is lethal to marine ecosystems that depend on clean energy to survive. Many of these ecosystems are already at risk of being wiped out and gold mining would practically finish the job. Additionally, marine and other wildlife ecosystems are one of the biggest tools we have to combat pollution and climate change so gold mining would not only hinder the use of this tool but actually make pollution worse.
The residents of the state of Virginia also be compromised as gold mining releases tons of airborne elemental mercury every year this airborne mercury could very easily find its way into the air Virginians breathe causing long-term health effects. Additionally, gold mining produces sulfuric acid that can find its way into drainage systems. The environmental impact of this activity is obviously tremendous, and the risk it poses to human life can not be ignored.
While supporters of the resolution might state that gold mining will bring jobs to the commonwealth we must ask ourselves, at what cost? Is sacrificing the beautiful wildlife of Virginia worth doing for dirty money? Is risking the health of thousands of citizens of this great state worth doing for mere minerals? It is the job of the government in our society to protect its constituents from threats to their inalienable rights and to look out for their well-being, allowing for such a dangerous practice to occur would be a flagrant violation of the responsibilities entrusted to those in charge of governing. Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money. -Native Cree Proverb
Earthworks, No Dirty Gold, March 10, 2022
Blake, J. (2021, December 2). Metal mining in Virginia risks public and environmental health. The Piedmont Environmental Council. Retrieved March 31, 2022
Alastair Bland, The Environmental Disaster that is the Gold Industry, Smithsonian Magazine, February 14, 2014