VA gold miner tells Planning Commission Buckingham does not have enough gold to be profitable

Apr 1, 2023 | Letters to the Editor, Metallic Mining, News, Top Stories | 0 comments

Brian Carlton, Editor of the Farmville Herald

Monday March 27, Paul Busch, Goochland gold mine owner-operator, had the Buckingham Planning Commission’s close attention for over 40 minutes. Read the review by Farmville Herald’s Editor, Brian Carlton; article about the meeting: Part 1 of 2, Here and Part 2 of 2, Here. **For commentary/correction of article, scroll to the very bottom.**

Watch the recording of the 3/27 meeting on the Planning Commission’s YouTube channel Here. Start at 16 minutes for our public comments. Paul Busch is on immediately thereafter, for over 40 minutes

Read a letter to the editor (LTE) summing up the current status, now that the Planning Committee has heard only from self-serving industry (90 minutes on 3/20 & 40 minutes on 3/27). We remind the Planning Commission to return to their task to create a ban on new metallic mining and to survey options. This LTE, by Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, will bring you up to date. Published 3-30-2023, thanks to the Farmville Herald; linked Here. Text below.

Who cares about the consequences
of gold/metallic mining? 

The Buckingham Supervisors handed the project of banning metallic mining to the Planning Commission. The Planners have hosted more than two hours of testimony – exclusively from self-promoting industry, which has them a bit derailed, thinking that metallic mining isn’t so bad! I remind us – that the EPA considers metallic mining the the most toxic of all industry.

I asked Chair Bickford to invite independent experts (who have had success in mining reform around the world) to the next Planning Commission Work Session on April 19th at 6pm. 

His current plan is to hear my 20 minute report on the 2022 state study of the potential impacts of gold mining in Virginia. The county attorney would be speaking for the remaining time on the legalities of banning mining. I hope he’s done his research. We observed his failure in August to cite Virginia law allowing counties to ban mining.

At the work session, covered in the March 24 Farmville Herald feature article, we heard about industry’s needs and wants to stay the course, to carry on as is. We heard about the good paying jobs and the taxes paid to the county and state, and about the mining materials that we use every day. We can thank them for bringing these benefits to our world. AND benefits need to outweigh the risks in any choices in life. 

I heard nothing about the so-called ‘externalized costs’ of doing business. The true costs that we all pay for, in forever-poisoned water, air, land and the effects on our health, safety and local and regional economies.

I heard no offer of solutions from industry as to how to protect this county and the state of Virginia from the ravages of the metallic mining industry. 

Let’s remember the Supervisors agree they don’t want new metallic mining. Figuring out how to stop it is the challenge. The options need careful scrutiny: ban new metallic mining, ban cyanide, and/or require industry to prove it safe first. By calling in forward-thinking experts we can learn from other communities such as Wisconsin that successfully required safety to be proven first, or El Salvador, which banned metallic mining, or the state of Montana, which banned cyanide.

The state study of the potential impacts of gold mining to Virginia tells us clearly that our regulatory framework WON’T protect us, and lacks an adequate financial assurance system, posing a fiscal and environmental risk to the Commonwealth. It is very important for decision makers to hear from voices that have been hard at work creating new ideas and solutions to these very big problems. 

Please call your Supervisor and Commissioner and tell them you want them to make decisions based on fair and balanced information on how metallic mining would affect the County and your future here.

**Commentary of Brian’s article – the last
2 paragraphs on page 2 of 2**

“There are no deposits big enough experts say”, Part 1 of 2, Here and Part 2 of 2, Here.

Article: “Cyanide is only used on small deposits, and the ones in Buckingham are fairly large.” 

Heidi: Actually – this is a wee bit confusing – it’s the opposite: Cyanide is only used on ‘flour gold’ – microscopic – or very small sized gold particles, to separate the gold form the ore. This microscopic gold is found more out west, and found in large quantities or large fields, large deposits. That’s why they use the cyanide – its largely the common way [the cheapest – really because they can externalize the expense of forever poisons] to separate it when it is in microscopic sized particles. And when the deposit is large enough, as it is out west, it makes it economically feasible. 

In Buckingham the deposits are more in veins – which are not microscopic. The overall quantity of gold, size of the field is small. So the gold is visible – large – not microscopic & the deposits – the overall quantity at the site – are small. Thus cyanide is not necessary. But! Cyanide was indeed used in the abandoned mines in Virginia – we know, because it is still there, awaiting clean up.

Earthworks explains this best. Click Here.

Article: “By banning the process by which cyanide is used, you don’t ban the chemical itself, which is used in everything from pesticides to herbicides and cigarette smoke.”  

Heidi: Paul supports banning the process that uses cyanide, not the cyanide itself. We would like experts to speak to the Planners on exactly how those bans work. I will make that very clear on 4/19. Montana did it – how? (See link to article below)

Article: “Just ban the process,” Busch said. “That’s probably the easiest solution to the whole thing.”

Heidi: Virginia HB 1722 proposed a ban on cyanide use in mining earlier this year, but failed to pass:

See HB1722:

No miner or other person shall…[iv] use cyanide, a cyanide compound, or sulfuric acid [this was deleted so as not to interfere with the Kyanite mine] in any mineral mining or processing operation.

This could be done at the local level…

For more clarity, please also see this post:


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