Letter to the Editor — We need a broader committee

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dear Editor,

I was a member of the State Committee to assess the impacts of gold mining in Virginia. Unfortunately Virginia Energy, who oversaw the work group, has not updated their website with our final submission. Our Buckingham County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has been waiting for the final report in order to move ahead with their decision on gold mining here. The committee never received a final draft for approval so there was some controversy regarding our recommendations.

An important issue was suggested by HB2213 committee member Jordan Miles, our Buckingham BOS Chairman, in support of our recommendation for a ban on gold mining. Sadly this was downplayed in the final report . The document has been shared with some officials but it is not easily accessed by the general public.

As a Buckingham County resident, I feel deeply impacted by the claim from Aston Bay Holdings, the Canadian exploratory mining company, that the gold in our county warrants large scale open pit mining. Our BOS has been hearing about this from concerned residents for months. They’re hearing that no one wants gold mining here!

Several options to protect our water, land, and future have come to light. We learned from Joe Lerch, VACo Director of Local Government Policy, that, in fact, our county has the power to prohibit this mining through land use laws.

We also were presented with the concept of “Prove It (Safe) First” in the rights-based Toxic Trespass Ordinance from the work of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund with the Virginia Community Rights Network. Halifax County protected their residents from uranium mining a decade ago with this method.

Our Buckingham BOS has decided to form a committee to address the results of our HB2213 study. While that committee should consist of informed members/residents who have studied the history and issues around the potential gold and metallic mining in our county, it does not.

The committee that the BOS is attempting to establish is sorely short of those who are well informed regarding the Aston Bay project and, as well, lacks the diverse thinking it takes to make an informed decision.

What happens from here forward will without a doubt affect every resident in Buckingham who depends on ground water for their home, business, and farm. I encourage you to contact your supervisor to let them know we need a broader committee to render a decision that represents all of us. I further encourage everyone who can to attend the next BOS meeting on January 9 to sign up before 5:55 pm to speak. Request/demand that our elected representatives take action to protect Buckingham County residents and provide a representative committee that will fairly consider our situation regarding metallic mining in Buckingham.

Kenda Hanuman