State panel studies potential impact of gold mining in Virginia
BUCKINGHAM, Va. (WDBJ) - Before the California gold rush, Virginia was a major gold producer. Now that a company is prospecting for the precious metal again in central Virginia, a state task force is taking a closer look at the potential impact of gold mining in the Commonwealth.
The company Aston Bay Holdings has been actively prospecting in an area with known deposits, drilling core samples on property in Buckingham County.
Monday morning, members of the Gold Mining Study Work Group held their fourth meeting in Buckingham County and online. The session included experts who raised major concerns about the environmental and social costs of gold mining.
Mining consultant Steven Emerman discussed the byproduct of mining known as tailings and the ongoing responsibility for their management.
“The tailings dam can never be dismantled. It’s got to confine those toxic tailings forever,” Emerman said. “And we ask the question, are they going to be maintained forever?”
And he said the use of cyanide for gold extraction can also leave a toxic legacy.
“This is my real recommendation, just don’t do it. Don’t allow gold mining in Virginia,” Emerman said. “This comes back to my initial point that gold mining is all risk and no benefit, and just don’t do it.”
Part of the state’s review of gold mining includes a study of the potential impacts by The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
That organization will hold a listening session next week in Buckingham County, with a report expected before the end of the year.
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