Gold Mining in the Silver State

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"Despite major setbacks, Nevada remains an excellent place to mine."

Although Nevada was well reputed for prolific silver deposits in the 19th century, many of the early mining districts also hosted considerable quantities of gold. Although Las Vegas and the tourism industry have surfaced as Nevada's largest employer, mining continues to be a substantial sector of the state economy as Nevada is ranked as the fourth largest producer of gold in the world, producing approximately 79% of U.S. gold, totaling 175 tons in 2009.

The majority of all the gold in Nevada comes from large open pit mining and cyanide heap leaching recovery. About 24 percent of gold from Nevada in 2009 was produced from underground mines. Unlike coal and oil extraction, where mining companies pay royalties for minerals obtained from public land, gold mining companies do not pay any royalties for deposits claimed on federal public lands as mines on public land continue to operate under the General Mining Act of 1872. In 2009, Nevada produced construction aggregates, barite, clays, copper, diatomite, dolomite, gypsum, lime and limestone, lithium, magnesite, mercury, molybdenum, oil, gas, perlite, precious opals, salt and silica sand.

The mining jurisdiction of Nevada ranks tenth out of fifty-one in the most recent Fraser Institute's Survey of Mining Companies: 2010 Mid-Year Update. Nevada's score suffered the second largest decline in the developed world, from 88.8 to 77.0 out of 100, dropping it from a rank of third to the tenth spot. According to miners, Nevada still remains an excellent place to mine, but the results of the survey highlighted some concern about an effort to put a considerable tax increase to a referendum. The referendum petition failed to get enough signatures to be put on the ballot; however, the legislature enacted a new one-time mining tax.

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