Chad Oba
Friends of Buckingham, 434-806-6332

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud 
Virginia Community Rights Network, 434-979-9732

Ben Price
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, 717-254-3233

Virginia Community Joins Global Rights of Nature Movement, Takes Stand Against Proposed Gold Mining

A ‘Community Bill of Rights’ includes safeguards for ecosystem rights. 

Buckingham County, Virginia: As gains are made across the globe to secure paradigm-shifting Rights of Nature, a group of residents in Buckingham, Virginia have mobilized in opposition to proposed corporate gold mining by advancing a “Community Bill of Rights.” The ordinance includes language to safeguard the rights of ecosystems and would protect the health, safety and general welfare of residents. It will be presented to the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

The ordinance:

  • Secures the rights of ecosystems and residents from “toxic trespass”
  • Asserts the democratic right and responsibility to make decisions locally to protect communities from corporate extraction
  • Requires any metallic mining operation in the county to show proof that a project of similar scale and method, having operated for over ten years, and having also been idle for ten years following mining operations, has no record of toxic impacts on people or the environment.

In June 2020, Buckingham residents learned that Canadian company Aston Bay Holdings was conducting exploratory drilling for gold in the county. The company is now targeting three sites in Buckingham for industrial metallic mining.

Industrial gold mining has been shown to devastate local communities, including through the depletion of water tables and poisoning of water systems.

Friends of Buckingham and the Virginia Community Rights Network are jointly proposing the ordinance, titled: “Ordinance Requiring an Assessment of the Compatibility of Metallic Mining with the Right to Freedom from Toxic Trespass.”

Copy of ordinance: 

An online petition has been established to support this ordinance. Buckingham residents can sign here: 

Volunteers can contact Friends of Buckingham or the Virginia Community Rights Network.

“Gold mining would change the character of our community, and pollute our clean water and environment. This ordinance is essential to protect our people and community” 
-Harvey Shelton, Deacon Jerusalem Baptist Church, Buckingham County

“We request the Buckingham Board of Supervisors to enact this law and do their duty to protect the health and safety of the community and the environment from the toxic harms of industrial metallic mining in Buckingham. We want them to protect us and the land and act as if they want to stick around here for generations to come.” 
-Debra Branch, a directly impacted resident

“Corporate profits must not take precedence over our health. The right to do exploratory drilling and/or mining does not give these corporations the right to harm us or our environment.” 
-Paul Barlow, Buckingham resident who lives only a few miles from an area that Aston Bay has been prospecting

“The deep caring and concern that residents have for each other and their communities is the wellspring from which this effort flows, to protect ourselves, our water, air and land. This is Creation Care.”
-Swami Dayananda, a directly impacted landowner

“The allure of good paying local jobs is deceiving, as the mining companies bring in their own skilled workers. Furthermore, the promise of tax revenue is misleading as the true, devastating costs to the community include forever toxic waste dumps that are not reclaimable.” 
-Kenda Hanuman, Friends of Buckingham Gold Committee Co-Chair

“The impacts of commercial mining for metals are well-documented. These operations threaten to contaminate the water sources of nearby and downstream communities and are a hazard to public health and the environment. Although we are very concerned about the location of new metallic mining landing anywhere in the state of Virginia, it brings us to a bigger and more urgent question: We cannot continue to develop mining while destroying the very sources that sustain all life on Earth.” 
-Chad Oba, Friends of Buckingham President

Friends of Buckingham

Virginia Community Rights Network
(434) 253-5510


Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is helping build a decolonial movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature to advance democratic, economic, social, and environmental rights – building upward from the grassroots to the state, federal, and international levels.

Photo by Caleb White on Unsplash

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