Thank you for this opportunity to submit my views concerning gold mining in Virginia; I am sincerely appreciative.
I am a Virginia native. Formerly an award-winning NASA engineer, turned award-winning economic development leader across several Mid-Atlantic states, and entrepreneur, I love the bounty that is our State: the land, the waters, the citizenry, the wildlife.
Gold mining in Virginia threatens to poison that bounty, irreversibly and forever into the future.
Note: For any of the applicable claims below, I am happy to provide comprehensive, peer-reviewed references and/or background information, including technical data and details omitted here. Also, references to “gold mining” in these comments pertain to any of these mining types: commercial; large-scale; requiring chemicals beyond water; other non-simple destructive or contaminating techniques; or non-hobby.
Both because all the “easy to mine” gold has already long been retrieved globally, and because of the particular nature of any gold remaining in Virginia (unlike, for example, certain locations such as in Canada), the large-scale techniques required to mine Virginia’s type of gold by their nature unavoidably wreak permanently lethal, persistently seeping toxicity. Such seeping toxicity will poison not only the localities near to any gold mining efforts – threatening public health and wildlife alike – but also the same poison and its disastrous effects will inevitably seep into and throughout the interconnected Chesapeake Bay watershed system, including the Chesapeake Bay itself.
Disastrously, there are no known methods for removing such seeping toxicity caused by this type of mining, and it is not possible to truly fully contain the toxicity such mining causes. The consequences are catastrophic and irreversible.
Virginia’s current administration claims to hold the Chesapeake Bay and continued efforts toward its “healing” as a priority commitment. Accordingly, it must also necessarily respect the requisite parallel commitment required to insuring that the waters and land of its watershed be protected absolutely from the kinds of toxicity gold mining in our State would cause.
But here is the rub: There is no manner or approach in which gold mining can be done safely in Virginia. Period.
Despite the above, should there be any greenlighting – or consideration of same – to gold-mining in Virginia, I implore the powers-that-be to embrace the following.
Necessary Perspectives and Practices:
What is required to accept and implement ahead
1. A strong, fully comprehensive regulatory framework must be implemented to regulate any future gold mining activity AS WELL AS any future core drilling/extraction efforts.
NOTE: Such a regulatory framework does not currently exist in Virginia. Until that could be realized, a moratorium on all gold mining and exploratory core extraction efforts should be effectuated.
2. Gold mining in Virginia, coupled with the floods we already typically experience – and will suffer in increasing frequency and severity ahead – are a catastrophic combination.
Critically for the gold mining issue: the disastrous phenomenon of flooding doesn’t just occur at the coast. Indeed, it also occurs with ferocity at the higher and highest elevations within the Chesapeake Bay watershed – in the very regions where Virginia’s gold mining might occur – though the reality of non-coastal flooding is customarily given too little attention by our governing officials. Worse, the realities of climate change are already exacerbating all flooding occurrences throughout the State, both in frequency and severity. Tragically, flooding in a mined area would ultimately force the permeation of gold mining’s lethal ever-seeping contamination throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed waters.
Virginia already largely fails when it comes to respecting the dangers that flooding poses to our land and its citizenry as it is. (The short-sighted and unfortunately likely pulling out of Virginia from the RGGI program by the current administration, with no apparent recourse to replace the funding it generates for the Community Flood Preparedness Program, is just one example of the sad fact that those in power in Virginia fail to respect the wide range of awfulness that flooding causes.) Hence it bears repeating: Gold mining in Virginia, and the floods we already typically experience and will suffer in increasing frequency and severity ahead are a catastrophic combination. The seeping toxicity caused by the type of mining techniques that the extraction of Virginia’s gold would require will permanently poison not only the localities near to any gold mining efforts – threatening public health and wildlife alike – but also the same poison and its disastrous effects will seep into and throughout the interconnected Chesapeake Bay watershed system, including the Chesapeake Bay itself.
3. NO extant 21st Century regulations that could be adapted from anywhere else for a Virginia gold mining effort currently account for the suite of near-term and future climate change effects bearing down on our State from: flooding; storms; subsidence; other geological consequences; etc. Hence, in an ideal world, anticipating these effects, planning for them, accounting for them, preventing them and/or thoroughly mitigating against them would be absolutely essential both in advance of, and entirely throughout, any gold mining effort.
However, this is not an ideal world, and the point is that: despite any and all good-faith efforts, preventing and/or mitigating against the climate change consequences mentioned here for gold mining in Virginia is impossible.
4. Comprehensive public input, and the demonstrated incorporation of same, must accompany all stages of gold mining – from preliminary study phases, to the development and ongoing review and assessment of pertinent regulations, through to review and assessment of actual mining, should it ever take place.
5. Relative to any purported Economic Development benefits from gold mining in Virginia: As is typical of most of today’s commercial or industrial mining efforts of any kind, the so-called economic development conferred to a mining locale is primarily mythical and never sustainable. The reality is that: a) at one tier, a limited, early short-term “pop” of contract wages can be earned by usually out-of-town transient workers; and b) any true profits ultimately generated are typically accrued by foreign owners. The host State is typically left only with the resultant irreversible ecological disaster.
6. Finally, after all the above, there is this additional dose of reality: All the gold that is needed for any known, anticipated, and even wildly imagined future critical technological and/or defense needs has already been mined and is already available for many hundreds of years to come.
In other words, gold mining is not an effort that can be considered to be vital to or necessary for our population at either the state or national levels by any argument.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you again for this opportunity.
A. M. Lindemann