Dear Virginia Regulatory Town Hall,
Gold mining is one of the greatest threats to our societies and environment, however its industry has a great prevalence nevertheless. The mining of gold is proven to contaminate ground and surface water, displace communities who reside downstream from mines, as well as devastate habitats; despite these effects, Virginia continues to open new mines. Harvesting gold is an incredibly wasteful process, however the industry is so prolific in our society that it continues growing. According to "Earthworks," a process known as heap leaching is performed. This process drips cyanide into heads of gold ore, stripping away the gold so that it can be collected in a pond. This operation is heavily wasteful, with almost 99.99% of the heap becoming waste. Measures to prevent the excess cyanide from entering bodies of water are taken, however they are not full-proof. This results in ocean habitats, namely coral, to be negatively impacted.
As well as entering above ground bodies of water, cyanide and mercury are entering groundwater and aquifers. The leaching of these chemicals causes workers to be impacted as well, making working the mines very dangerous and at times life threatening. In 200, a fatal fire broke out in Aracoma Alma Mine #1, killing two workers. This fire proved to be fatal because the mines were not easily escapable, and the workers were trapped inside; this proves how dangerous this industry is for its workers.
In addition to impacting workers and ocean organisms, humans living on reserves and other rural communities are being affected. Rural communities typically aren't owned by those living on the land, so when untapped gold deposits are detected, their homes are displaced to open mines. This causes these communities to be placed in sudden homelessness, which often cannot be recovered from. Abandoned mines leak acid drainage into downstream communities, contaminating their drinking water. With no clean drinking water, these communities grow sick and weak, and can even cause death.
Regulations are necessary to ensure the safety of mine workers, and the preservation of our natural habitats and environment. It is crucial that we continue taking steps towards improvement, and I hope that these points are considered during evaluation.