Reclaiming the Sierra 2015 will open with a talk-show styled panel of keynotes on Monday evening, April 20, 2015 featuring Greg Valerio, Mark Nechodom, and Fran Spivy-Weber
When: 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Monday April 20
Where: California State University Sacramento, University Union Ballroom III, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819 (click here for map and directions)
Tickets: Admission to this event is included with conference registration, but members of the public wishing to attend only this evening reception are welcome to purchase tickets online.
Gold mining is big business around the world, and in some cases it is a bloody business. Many countries do not have any worker safety or environmental regulations. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, small-scale artisanal gold miners around the world are the source of 1/3 of the mercury in our planet’s atmosphere. Miners in many developing countries are employing the mining techniques that wreaked havoc on the rivers and forests of our state during the 19th Century. This includes using water cannons to tear apart mountains and pouring liquid elemental mercury into sluices to recover gold from the slurry.
Leaders around the world interested in putting an end to these dangerous and destructive practices are working to create and bring to market a new sort of gold that is produced as part of legacy mine reclamation, ensuring environmentally sensitive, economically viable and ethically sound (E3) methods that actually result in a net benefit to the environment.
Hydraulic mining was banned in California more than 125 years ago, and mines in California are now subject to labor and environmental laws. Despite this passage of time, legacy mining toxins such as mercury, which was mined on the coast and then used in the Sierra, are still contaminating the State’s watershed from the Sierra to the sea. Reclaiming the mine-scarred rivers and forests will provide multiple benefits to the people of California, from improved water storage to healthier forests, and potentially a new source of E3 gold as a by-product of cleaning up this legacy pollution.
This link between cleaning up our legacy mines and educating consumers about the need for responsible mining practices will be featured in the opening night of The Sierra Fund’s “Reclaiming the Sierra” conference on Monday, April 20 at CSU Sacramento. This talk show-styled panel includes leaders representing completely different perspectives, from international ethical jewelers working to identify “fair mined gold,” to protecting and restoring tribal cultures devastated by the Gold Rush, to state regulators working to clean up the mine-impacted rivers and forests.
Monday night’s program takes the format of a television talk show, with Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund serving as the host and featuring live music by the Sacramento State Jazz Quartet. She will kick off the program with a quick outline of The Sierra Fund’s vision for the triple bottom line benefits that mine reclamation will bring to California. Each of the next speakers will get a chance to make a presentation before sitting down with Izzy to discuss with each other their ideas.
The speakers represent very different perspectives and constituencies with the common concerns about the modern cultural, environmental and health issues associated with legacy mining.
- Greg Valerio, an international fair trade and fair mined gold activist from London, will talk about California’s position both as an example of what happens a century after extensive mining, and a model for how to address the impacts, as compared to the current situation around the world, where mining is done in terrifically dangerous conditions, often by indigenous people who are literally enslaved by the mines, using horribly toxic materials including mercury.
- Fran Spivy-Weber, a member of the State Water Resources Control Board will talk about the State of California’s efforts to regulate mercury discharge into the State’s water system, including the Delta, since 96% of the mercury in the Delta comes from upstream gold and mercury mines in the Coastal and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.
- Mark Nechodom, Director of the California Department of Conservation, which regulates modern day mining as well as abandoned mine lands remediation, will discuss the State’s plans to address the legacy issues associated with mine-scarred lands and legacy, abandoned mines.
The “Reclaiming the Sierra Tonight Show” panel follows a reception in the exhibit hall of the conference where governmental agency and business exhibits will be set up. Light refreshments and no-host adult beverages and live jazz music will be available starting at 5:30 pm at the reception and throughout the evening event, and the Sacramento State Jazz Quartet will provide live music.
Admission to this event is included with registration for the Reclaiming the Sierra conference; additionally, members of the public wishing to attend only this evening reception and panel are welcome to purchase a ticket to the evening event. Tickets will also be available at the door, depending upon availability.