Resident group opposed to gold mining

Published 7:05 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

A Buckingham Toxic Trespass Ordinance campaign was launched recently, according to a press release from Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, secretary of Friends of Buckingham (FoB) and president of Virginia Community Rights Network (VACRN).

“Buckingham residents first learned about the Canadian company, Aston Bay Holdings, doing exploratory drilling for gold in Buckingham County in June, 2020,” the release states. “Aston Bay references the Haile Mine in South Carolina, a sprawling, expanding 5,000 acre open pit industrial gold mine as similar to the potential for Buckingham County. They are now targeting three sites in Buckingham for industrial metallic mining.”

The release went on to say, “Gold mining has been called the most polluting industry in the US by the EPA. Our research shows that the impacts of industrial gold mining are devastating for local communities, including depleting our water table, poisoning aquifers and waters downstream and downwind.”

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The release also noted, “A group of concerned residents has written a commonsense Community Bill of Rights (CBOR) that will be presented to the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors as a proposed ordinance for the county. The ordinance would protect the health, safety and general welfare of the residents and natural environment of Buckingham County in three broad ways: Claims the right and responsibility to make decisions locally to protect our communities, protects from the toxic trespass of industrial metallic mining and prove it first. The company would first have to provide proof that at least one industrial metallic mine did not cause harm to human and natural communities.

The FoB and the VACRN are jointly proposing the ordinance titled: ‘Ordinance Requiring an Assessment of the Compatibility of Metallic Mining with the Right to Freedom from Toxic Trespass.’”

An online petition has been established to support this ordinance. “We call on local residents to tell the supervisors you support the passage of this ordinance and that industrial metallic mining is not ok with you,” said Berthoud.

Buckingham residents can sign and share the petition at this link:

“Gold mining would change the character of our community and pollute our clean water and environment. This ordinance is essential to protect our people and community,” commented Harvey Shelton, deacon of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Buckingham County.

Debra Branch, one of the directly impacted residents, commented, “We request the Buckingham Board of Supervisors to enact this law and do their duty to protect the health and safety of the community and the environment from the toxic harms of industrial metallic mining in Buckingham. We want them to protect us and the land and act as if they want to stick around here for generations to come.”

“Corporate profits must not take precedence over our health,” said Buckingham resident Paul Barlow, who lives only a few miles from an area that Aston Bay has been prospecting. “The right to do exploratory drilling and/or mining does not give these corporations the right to harm us or our environment.”

Swami Dayananda, another directly impacted land owner, remarks, “The deep caring and concern that residents have for each other and their communities is the wellspring from which this effort flows, to protect ourselves, our water, air and land. This is Creation Care.”

“The allure of good paying local jobs is deceiving, as the mining companies bring in their own skilled workers,” said Kenda Hanuman, FoB gold committee co-chair. “Furthermore, the promise of tax revenue is misleading as the true, devastating costs to the community include forever toxic waste dumps that are not reclaimable.”

“The impacts of commercial mining for metals are well-documented,” said FoB President Chad Oba. “These operations threaten to contaminate the water sources of nearby and downstream communities and are a hazard to public health and the environment. Although we are very concerned about the location of new metallic mining landing anywhere in the state of Virginia, it brings us to a bigger and more urgent question: We cannot continue to develop mining while destroying the very sources that sustain all life on Earth.”

The release states Buckingham residents are encouraged to sign and share the petition at this link: