Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed into law a bill that would direct a study of gold mining in the Commonwealth. The issue arose last year when ABRA member Friends of Buckingham became aware that a Canadian mining company was considering the establishment of an open pit mine in Buckingham County to access a gold seam that extends all the way to Northern Virginia. (Click here for an earlier ABRA Update article on the story).
HB2213, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-31, representing portions of Fauquier and Prince William Counties) was signed into law on March 30 and will be effective July 1. The bill directs the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to establish a work group to study the mining of gold in the Commonwealth. It requires that the study be conducted in consultation with the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and appropriate stakeholders, including experts in mining, hydrology, toxicology, and other fields; environmental organizations; representatives of potentially affected communities in localities with significant deposits of gold; and residents of Native American communities in such localities.
The bill also provides that the work group shall evaluate the impacts of gold mining on public health, safety, and welfare; evaluate whether existing air and water quality regulations are sufficient to protect air and water quality from the mining and processing of gold; evaluate whether existing bonding, reclamation, closure, and long-term monitoring of sites for such mining or processing are sufficient; and report its findings to the General Assembly by December 1, 2022.