Nevada's Mineral Production in 1993

(Summer 1994)

Nevada produced an estimated $2.96 billion in minerals (including petroleum and geothermal energy) in 1993, 8% more than in 1992. Gold production in Nevada reached another all-time high in 1993 and the amounts of silver, copper, aggregate, barite, gypsum, and geothermal energy produced exceeded 1992 levels, but oil production declined 50%.

Nevada produces about 60% of all gold produced in the United States and about 10% of all gold produced in the world. Our gold production makes the United States the second leading gold producer in the world. In 1993 Nevada produced 6.7 million troy ounces of gold worth $2.41 billion, a 3% increase in amount and a 7% increase in value from 1992.

Two mining companies operating in the Carlin trend were the largest gold producers: Newmont Gold produced 1.67 million ounces of gold, and American Barrick Resources produced 1.40 million ounces. Other large gold producers include Santa Fe Pacific Gold's Twin Creeks mine (482,600 oz), Echo Bay Mines' McCoy/Cove mine (395,600 oz), Smoky Valley Common Operations' Round Mountain mine (370,000 oz), Independence Mining's Jerritt Canyon mine (361,800 oz), and LAC Minerals' Bullfrog mine (340,000 oz).

Published gold resources, including mineable reserves and perhaps subeconomic deposits, totaled about 132.5 million ounces at the end of 1993, about 5.5 million ounces less than at the beginning of the year, reversing the trend of recent years in which the rate of discovery of new gold reserves exceeded the rate of extraction.

Nevada, the "Silver State," produces more silver than any other state in the Union. Although only two mines in Nevada are currently being operated primarily for silver, most Nevada gold mining operations produce silver as well. These mines produced 23 million troy ounces of silver worth $100 million in 1993, a 17% increase in amount and a 28% increase in value from 1992.

Echo Bay Mines' McCoy/Cove operation, although primarily a gold producer, is the largest silver producer in North America and third largest in the world, produced 12.5 million ounces of silver in 1993. Nevada's second largest silver producer, Coeur d'Alene Mines' Rochester silver mine, produced 5.9 million ounces of silver in 1993. The Candelaria mine, the only other mine in Nevada in which the value of silver production exceeds the value of gold production, was purchased by Kinross Gold Corp. and resumed operation in November 1993 and is expected to produce about 3 million ounces of silver in 1994.

Similarly, no mines are currently being operated for mercury but several gold mining operations produce enough mercury as a by-product to make Nevada the leading mercury-producing state.

During most of the 1960s and 1970s, copper was Nevada's most important mineral but copper production virtually ceased in 1979 as a result of increasing extraction costs, foreign competition, low demand, and more restrictive environmental regulations. Nevada's annual copper production averaged about 200 million pounds during 1969-74, but it has averaged less than 8 million pounds since 1978 . Arimetco's Yerington mine, Nevada's only operating copper mine, produced 10 million pounds of cathode copper in 1993; reserves are about 284 million pounds of recoverable oxide copper. Magma Copper's proposed operation at Ruth, currently in the environmental impact study phase, is expected to produce 2.5 billion pounds of copper and 1.2 million ounces of gold over a 16-year mining life. These two projects plus some other possible new copper producers could return Nevada's copper production to the levels of the early 1970s.

Nevada produced $303 million worth of industrial minerals in 1993, $18 million more than in 1992. Most of this increase is due to increases in both production and selling price of barite; Nevada shipped 529,000 tons of barite worth an estimated $26.4 million in 1993, a 54% increase in quantity and an 80% increase in value over 1992. The other important industrial minerals produced in Nevada in 1993 were aggregate, diatomite, lime, cement, gypsum, lithium carbonate, silica, clay, and magnesia. Nevada continues to lead the nation in barite production and is second in the production of diatomite and lithium carbonate.

Nevada produced 1.9 million barrels of oil worth $22 million in 1993, 50% less in volume and 52% less in value than in 1992. This drastic reduction was due to the watering out of two wells in the Grant Canyon field in Railroad Valley, Nye County. These wells had been major producers but began pumping water early in 1993. This set-back in production is believed to be temporary. Five new producing wells were completed in 1993: one in the Grant Canyon field, two in the newly discovered Sans Spring field near the Grant Canyon field, one in the North Willow Creek field (Eureka County), and one in the Three Bar field (Eureka County).

Nevada's geothermal electric power sales reached another all-time high of 1,349,000 megawatt-hours worth $108 million in 1993, a 30% increase in amount and a 27% increase in value from 1992. Nevada's geothermal power-generating capacity now stands at 208.6 megawatts and further increases are planned.

Most of the 1992 and 1993 production data reported here were collected by the Nevada Division of Minerals and the U.S. Bureau of Mines. Some of the 1993 figures are still preliminary. For updated and more complete information on Nevada's 1993 mineral production as well as other aspects of the Nevada mineral industry, see NBMG Special Publication MI-1993, The Nevada Mineral Industry 1993.

--- Dick Meeuwig, Editor