Dear Virginia Department of Energy,
My name is Ariq Abdullah, and I am a student at Montgomery College in Maryland conducting an Environmental Biology project where I must submit a public comment. I want to start by saying I believe many issues need to be evaluated by the state for safety and public health. I want to recommend that the state needs a better understanding of modern methods of gold mining. Virginia does not have the experience to run a gold mine. Treating it like any other mine may result in disaster because of the outdated regulations and methods that will contaminate the people of Virginia’s air they breathe and the water they drink. According to the Department of Mines, Virginia’s last gold mining recorded was 75 years ago, in 1947. We have seen the damage unregulated gold mines with outdated methods have done in the U.S and around the world. In February, just last month, there was an explosion in Burkina Faso at an unregulated gold mine where 60 plus people were killed.
Additionally, if these gold mines do not work out in Virginia and end up abandoned, this will also cause immense harm to the environment affecting Virginia and its downstream communities. Abandoned mines, in general, are known to contaminate ground and surface water through acid mine drainage discharges. For example, in 2015, at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic tailings were accidentally released into a branch of the Animas River by workers with EPA and contractors. A tremendous amount of lethal damage was done to Colorado and three other states, too, due to this strategic and easily preventable disaster. Environmental disasters due to mining result from negligence and outdated methods and regulations. In conclusion, I am glad that a workgroup has been established, and I hope the state considers my recommendations during their evaluations.