Delegate Shelly Simonds, House District 94, has introduced legislation, co-patroned by Delegate James Edmunds, House District 60, calling for an evaluation of the impacts of large-scale copper, zinc and lead operations in the Commonwealth.
The bill, HB 250, also calls for a pause in permitting such operations until the study is completed.
HB 250 follows a bill that passed during the previous General Assembly Session to establish a study of the impacts of large-scale gold mining. Since the first bill’s passage, the Canadian company conducting exploration for gold in Virginia expanded its operations to copper, zinc and lead.
Currently, exploratory operations for large-scale metals mining are taking place in the counties of Buckingham, Campbell and Pittsylvania.
The company, Aston Bay, and its subsidiary Blue Ridge Mining, Inc., have also hinted at the possibility of large-scale metals mining across the commonwealth along a geological gold-pyrite belt that spans the state. Such operations could affect drinking water sources of major population centers like Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, as these communities are adjacent and downstream to the gold-pyrite belt. Major waterbodies like the James River and Chesapeake Bay could also be impacted.
“Large scale metals mining has not happened in Virginia for 75 years in the case of gold and copper, and 40 years for lead and zinc, so this commonsense legislation calls for an evaluation of Virginia’s regulatory framework and a pause in permitting until this critical analysis is complete,” Simonds said. “ I am proud to carry HB 250, a good governance bill that will protect our drinking water.”
Said Edmunds: “Industrial metal mining could potentially expose radioactive materials and make our water sources susceptible to contamination by these dangerous compounds. his, alongside other potential impacts to our resources, underscores the need for the evaluation of our regulations for these operations provided for in HB250. This bill allows Virginia to be proactive, instead of reactive, to the metal mining industry.”