I am a retired mining engineer (B.S.; M.S.; P.E.) living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I am against the state allowing large scale gold/metal mining to occur. All mining operations cause pollution and damage our environment. Yes mining is necessary otherwise we would be living under Stone Age conditions. Mining can be done in a more environmentally friendly manner but this would cost more money, which is why it is seldom done. It's cheaper for mining companies to abide by mining regulations, which are minimum requirements, and not best management practices. Regulations do not fully protect the environment and the people who live in that environment. Compounding this problem is that regulations are typically enforced by regulatory agencies that are understaffed, underpaid and overworked.
In effect, regulations legitimize polluting by permitting "allowable concentrations" of chemicals, minerals and soil to be discharged into our air, soil and water even if they were not originally present. Environmental costs of such pollution are externalized and left for taxpayers to pay. Water is our most valuable natural resource and is almost always adversely affected by mining operations. Topsoil is also a valuable resource that is not fully protected by regulations. And the air we breathe is almost always contaminated by mining activities.
Mining NEVER results in cleaner air, water or more productive topsoil. Why would you want a mining operation next door to your home? Have you ever heard of an exclusive, gated community clamoring for a mining operation to be established next door?
Gold is not a strategic mineral. We don't need it. There is already an enormous supply of gold. It is mined only for the profit it makes the mining company. Mining never pays for all of the environmental harm it causes. People living near the mining operation end up footing this bill through taxes raised to remediate the pollution and increased health care costs attributable to the pollution.
Enhanced mining regulations will not protect Virginians from the adverse consequences of gold/metal mining. Only the prohibition of such mining will.