Gold mine bill moves on to Senate

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A bill calling for a study evaluating the impacts of gold mining on public health, safety and welfare in Virginia, while also setting a temporary limit on gold mining operations successfully passed the Virginia House of Delegates Friday, Feb. 5.

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, secretary for Friends of Buckingham environmental advocacy group, announced the success in a Sunday, Feb. 7, email.

“We’ve done it,” she wrote. “HB2213 gold moratorium and study (with substitutes) passed out of the House of Delegates on Friday, Feb. 5, 55- 45 (along party lines, sadly). Feel free to thank Del. Elizabeth Guzman for championing this bill.”

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Buckingham Del. Matthew C. Farris voted in opposition to the bill.

The bill, known formally as House Bill 2213 (HB2213), was being carried by Guzman.

The piece of legislation stemmed from the Friends of Buckingham group because Canadian-based company Aston Bay Holdings had been performing drilling activities in search of gold in Buckingham for several years on the property of the Weyerhaeuser timber company. It wasn’t until 2020 that citizens and officials became aware of the drilling operations.

Berthoud said that next, the bill will go to the state Senate Rules Committee. She encouraged the bill’s supporters to reach out to their respective senators via email and phone and to sign an action letter to the full committee and to call the committee.