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Gold mining study begins as discoveries continue in Virginia

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Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 4:40 PM EST
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A group of scientists and engineers tasked with evaluating the potential impacts of gold mining on Virginia kicked off work last week with questions on issues ranging from deposits to mining company bonds.

“We are overdue to look into modern mining techniques,” said Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, during the first meeting of a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  “We have the time now before we commit to this to study the issue and get the full picture of how gold mines will affect those regions.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law sponsored by Guzman requiring the state to examine the impacts of gold mining and processing and whether existing regulations are sufficient to protect air and water quality. Legislators rejected a provision that would have banned the activities until the conclusion of the study.

The legislation followed a local fight in Buckingham County over exploratory drilling by Canadian company Aston Bay Holdings.

Since then, Aston Bay has ramped up its work in Virginia.

In addition to the Buckingham project on timberlands owned by Weyerhaeuser, the company has begun exploring a site surrounding what it describes as “several historical gold mine workings” roughly 12 miles southeast of the county. A third project known as the Mountain Base Metals Project is exploring potential zinc and copper deposits in Pittsylvania County.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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