Based on the research, and by the eyes and ears who live in the impacted communities, there is no infrastructure for "safe" mining; mining that would not impact water safety, water levels, and water quality.
Mining not only impacts the citizens of Virginia, it destroys habitat and unsettles an already imperiled ecosystem.
Why would the organizations that are supposed to provide oversight and ensure the health and prosperity of the commonwealth, allow gold mining at this time in our history, with our current challenges of health and climate crisis?
I was born in Virginia, from generations of farmers working on small farms. This legacy connects me to the land with an awareness of balance and stewardship. I have seen the lack of regulation of mining interests destroy land, farms, and spirits.
This state has hundreds of abandoned small-scale mines from the early 20th century. That legacy is one of mercury pollution. In spite of that, regulations have not been updated since the early 1900s, even as mines operates today, and on a much larger scale.
I grew up along the Dan River and have made my home for the past 40 years near the James River. Likely sites for new large-scale gold mines would be in close proximity to the James River and its watershed. This river system provides drinking water for 2.7 million people. It also brings millions of dollars into Virginia’s economy from commercial fishing, and attracts over 6 million visitors annually.
Growing up relying on water from a well, I am aware of the importance of the health of the water that we share from the ground. Gold mining operations could result in groundwater withdrawal, which could impact the availability of water for private drinking wells.
Mining, and in particular gold mining, is known for the toxic impact on the environment. Companies are run by people, and people make mistakes. We don't need this in our state. We need to protect the value that our natural environment adds to human health, physical and mental, and in attracting people to visit and play in, or live in, a green, healthy community.