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The Potential Impacts of Gold Mining in Virginia Committee on Potential Impacts of Gold Mining in Virginia Committee on Earth Resources Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies Consensus Study Report
NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 This activity was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sciences and the Virginia Department of Energy and the National Academy of Sciencesâ Arthur L. Day Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-69121-5 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-69121-4 Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26643 This publication is available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2023 by the National Academy of Sciences. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and National Academies Press and the graphical logos for each are all trademarks of the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. The Potential Impacts of Gold Mining in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26643.
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COMMITTEE ON POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF GOLD MINING IN VIRGINIA WILLIAM A. HOPKINS, Chair, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University KWAME AWUAH-OFFEI, Missouri University of Science and Technology JOEL D. BLUM, University of Michigan ROBERT J. BODNAR, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University THOMAS CRAFFORD, U.S. Geological Survey (retired) FIONA M. DOYLE, University of California, Berkeley JAMI DWYER, Barr Engineering Company (retired) ELIZABETH HOLLEY, Colorado School of Mines PAUL A. LOCKE, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health SCOTT M. OLSON, University of Illinois BRIAN S. SCHWARTZ, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health M. GARRETT SMITH, Montana Department of Environmental Quality SHILIANG WU, Michigan Technological University Staff STEPHANIE JOHNSON, Study Director MARGO REGIER, Study Director CLARA PHIPPS, Senior Program Assistant (until June 2022) MILES LANSING, Program Assistant (starting July 2022) CHIOMA ONWUMELU, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow (MarchâMay 2022) âNOTE: See Appendix B, Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflicts of Interest. v
COMMITTEE ON EARTH RESOURCES JAMES SLUTZ, Chair, National Petroleum Council BRIDGET F. AYLING, University of Nevada, Reno CHRISTOPHER D. BARTON, University of Kentucky ERIN A. CAMPBELL, Wyoming State Geological Survey DANIEL P. CONNELL, CONSOL Energy Inc. GARY J. GOLDBERG, BHP Ltd. DOUGLASS W. HOLLETT, Melroy-Hollett Technology Partners KRAMER D. LUXBACHER, University of Arizona DEBORAH PEACOCK, Peacock Law P.C. ANN ROBERTSON-TAIT, GeothermEx, Inc. TOMIEKA Y. SEARCY, BP America, Inc. Staff MARGO REGIER, Program Officer PADRAIGH HARDIN, Program Assistant vi
BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES ISABEL P. MONTAÃEZ, Chair, University of California, Davis THORSTEN W. BECKER, The University of Texas at Austin BRENDA B. BOWEN, The University of Utah NELIA W. DUNBAR, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources RODNEY C. EWING, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford University MARY (MISSY) FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company (retired) ZELMA MAINE-JACKSON, Washington State Department of Energy (retired) MICHAEL MANGA, University of California, Berkeley PATRICIA McDOWELL, University of Oregon HARVEY J. MILLER, The Ohio State University JEFFERY N. RUBIN, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue JAMES SLUTZ, National Petroleum Council ELIZABETH J. WILSON, Dartmouth College Staff DEBORAH GLICKSON, Director SAMMANTHA MAGSINO, Senior Program Officer MARGO REGIER, Program Officer CHARLES BURGIS, Associate Program Officer JONATHAN TUCKER, Associate Program Officer CYNTHIA GETNER, Senior Financial Business Partner PADRAIGH HARDIN, Program Assistant MILES LANSING, Program Assistant OSHANE ORR, Program Assistant EMILY BERMUDEZ, Program Assistant vii
Reviewers This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspec- tives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: STEPHEN BUCKLEY, Alaska Department of Natural Resources BARTHOLOMEW CROES, California Air Resources Board JACLYN GOODRICH, University of Michigan School of Public Health GEORGE HORNBERGER, Vanderbilt University STEVE KESLER, University of Michigan MOLLY KILE, Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences STEPHEN LANG, Hudbay Minerals and Hycroft Mining Holding Corporation JORGE MACEDO, Georgia Institute of Technology ANN MAEST, Buka Environmental JOHN MARSDEN, Metallugium and John O. Marsden LLC FRANK McCORMICK, U.S. Forest Service and Rocky Mountain Research Station PATRICIA McGRATH, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency JOHN PRICE, University of Nevada, Reno NORMAN SLEEP, Stanford University Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by HERMAN GIBB, Gibb Epidemiology Consulting, LLC, and CORALE L. BRIERLEY, Brierley Consultancy LLC. They were responsible for making certain that an inde- pendent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies. ix
Acknowledgments Many individuals assisted the committee and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine staff in their task to create this report. The committee would like to thank the following people who gave presenta- tions, participated in panel discussions, provided public comments to the committee, or served as field trip guides. Jeeva Abbate Byron Amick, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Nelson Bailey David Ball Betsy Baxter, Chair, Good Neighbor Agreement Task Force Heidi Berthoud Stephen Buckley, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Kevin Cook, OceanaGold Carolyn Curley, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Kristin Davis, Southern Environmental Law Center Jeremy Eddy, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Damien Fehrer, Virginia Department of Energy Lakshmi Fjord Marie Flowers Paul Fry, California State Mining and Geology Board Susan Fulmer, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Robert Ghiglieri, Nevada Division of Minerals James Golden, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Shawn Gooch, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Debbie Gordon Christine Green William Groom, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Elizabeth Guzman, Virginia House of Delegates Kenda Hanuman, Friends of Buckingham Chinsuk Henshaw Claire Horan, Southern Environmental Law Center xi
xii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Karen Hudson-Edwards, University of Exeter Larry Innes, Townshend LLP Wayne Jepson, Montana Department of Environmental Quality Suzanne Keller Karen Kreps Robery Kuczynski, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Jim Kuipers, Kuipers and Associates Irene Leech Natathanial Leies Kelly Lowry, Attorney, Lowry and Associates Sara MacDonald, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Ann Maest, Buka Environmental Karl McCrea, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Jim Mclain, Gemini Consulting Theresa McMannis Thomas Jordan Miles III Chris Miller Chris Mitchell Erica Morrell, St. Lawrence University Robby Morrow, South Carolina Geological Survey Kyle Moselle, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Allan Nakanishi, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation James Nooten, Jr. Chad Oba Deacon William Perkins and members of the Warminster Baptist and Union Hill Church Timothy Pilon, Division of Water, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Todd Process, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Manuel Rauhut, Idaho Department of Water Resources Abhaya Rhiek Stephanie Rinaldi, Press Pause Coalition Quin Robinson Ella Rose Paul Saunders, Virginia Department of Energy Erica Schoenberger, Johns Hopkins Environmental Health and Engineering Eric Schwamberger, International Cyanide Management Institute Jennifer Serafin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jessica Sims, Appalachian Voices Mareesa Singleton, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Michael Skiffington, Virginia Department of Energy J. Phil Skorupa, Virginia Department of Energy Christopher Slocum, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Maggie Snoddy David Spears, Virginia Department of Energy Brianna St. Pierre, California State Water Resources Control Board Janice Thore Lukas Tyree, Bureau of Indian Affairs Thomas Ullrich, Aston Bay Holdings, Ltd. Joshua Vana
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xiii Michael Visher, Nevada Division of Minerals David Waters Katie Whitehead Eric Wilson, Idaho Department of Lands Mindy Zlotnick
Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 9 Gold Mining in Virginia, 10 Characteristics of Virginia Relevant to Gold Mining Impacts, 15 Study Task and Approach, 20 Report Roadmap, 22 2 GEOLOGY AND GEOCHEMISTRY OF GOLD OCCURRENCES IN VIRGINIA 23 Geology of Virginia, 23 Where Does Gold Occur in Virginia?, 25 Characterization of Gold Occurrences in Virginia, 31 Comparable Deposits Around the World, 42 Summary of Findings, 45 3 MODERN GOLD MINING OPERATIONS 47 Exploration, Evaluation, and Development, 47 Mining Methods, 51 Gold Processing Methods, 57 Waste Material, 74 Water Management, 79 Reclamation, Closure, and Monitoring, 81 Mining Methods at Comparable Deposits, 88 Summary of Findings, 90 4 POTENTIAL IMPACTS TO HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT 91 Broad Discussion of Impacts, 91 Acid Rock Drainage, 93 Metals and Metalloids, 94 Cyanide, 101 xv
xvi CONTENTS Nitrogen, 103 Tailings Storage Facilities Failure and Tailings Release, 104 Water Table Depression, 105 Air Emissions, 108 Cumulative Health Impacts from Combined Exposures, 109 Conclusions and Recommendation, 111 5 VIRGINIAâS REGULATORY FRAMEWORK 115 Federal Environmental Reviews, 115 State Environmental Reviews, 119 Implications of Federal Regulations for Gold Mining, 119 Virginiaâs Mineral Mining Laws, Regulations and Guidance, 129 Conclusions and Recommendation, 164 REFERENCES 169 GLOSSARY 187 APPENDIXES A COMMITTEE MEMBER AND STAFF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 191 B DISCLOSURE OF UNAVOIDABLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST 197 C METAL DISTRIBUTION AND POTENTIAL FOR MOBILIZATION 199 D VALZINCO SAMPLES FROM PUDDLE 203 E COMPARISON TO OTHER DEPOSITS 205