Suction dredging banned

Controversial mining technique outlawed until June 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown continued a moratorium on suction-dredge gold mining on June 26 with legislation that prohibits the technique in California’s rivers through June 2016.

The bill, AB 120, will prevent the California Department of Fish and Game from issuing dredging permits until it “fully mitigate[s] all identified significant environmental impacts,” according to California Watch. Suction dredging involves handheld vacuums that suck up sediment from river beds, a practice linked to stirring up mercury left from Gold Rush-era hydraulic mining. The bill was declared a victory by environmentalists concerned with salmon populations and water pollution.

“This sensible law protects wildlife and waterways from toxic mercury and safeguards our cultural heritage,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “California can’t afford to subsidize toxic mining that hurts our wildlife and our water.”