Nevada mineral, oil, and geothermal production, 1974-1994 bargraph .
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Barrick Gold was the largest gold producer in Nevada in 1994 with total production of 2.15 million ounces: 1.85 million ounces from its Goldstrike mine in the Carlin trend and 300,000 ounces from its recently acquired Bullfrog mine in Nye County. Newmont Gold was second with 1.55 million ounces from several mines located along the Carlin trend. Other large gold producers include Santa Fe Pacific Gold's Twin Creeks mine (502,000 oz), Smoky Valley Common Operations' Round Mountain mine (423,000 oz), Echo Bay Mines' McCoy/Cove mine (359,000 oz), and Independence Mining's Jerritt Canyon mine (326,000 oz).
Nevada's known gold resources, which had decreased in 1993 after several years in which the rate of discovery exceeded the rate of extraction, rebounded in 1994. Published gold resources, including mineable reserves and perhaps subeconomic deposits, totaled about 136.5 million ounces at the end of 1994, about 4.0 million ounces more than at the end of 1993, but about 1.5 million ounces less than at the end of 1992.
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 22.8 million troy ounces of silver worth $120 million in 1994, a 2% decrease in amount but a 20% increase in value from 1993. Echo Bay Mines' McCoy/Cove operation, although primarily a gold producer, is the largest silver producer in North America and produced 10.4 million ounces of silver in 1994. Nevada's second largest silver producer, Coeur d'Alene Mines' Rochester mine, produced 5.9 million ounces of silver in 1994, the same as in 1993. The Candelaria mine, which was purchased by Kinross Gold Corp. and resumed operation in November 1993, was the third largest silver producer in 1994 with about 3.2 million ounces.
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 in Lyon County produced about 10 million pounds of cathode copper in 1994 about the same as in 1993, and production began at the nearby MacArthur property. Magma Copper's Robinson property in White Pine County is expected to produce 135 million pounds of copper and 110,000 ounces of gold annually over a 16-year period beginning in 1996. These two projects plus some other possible new copper producers could return Nevada's copper production to the levels of the early 1970s.
Although no mines are currently being operated for mercury, several gold mining operations produce enough mercury as a by- product to make Nevada the leading mercury-producing state.
Nevada produced about $322 million worth of industrial minerals in 1994, $19 million more than in 1993. The most important industrial minerals produced in Nevada in 1994 (in order of total value sold) were aggregate, diatomite, lime, cement, gypsum, barite, lithium carbonate, silica, clay, and magnesia. Nevada continues to lead the nation in barite production and is second in the production of diatomite.
There are presently two oil-producing areas in Nevada: Railroad Valley in Nye County and Pine Valley in Eureka County. Annual production reached a high of about 4 million barrels in 1990 but, as a result of watering out of the two most productive wells, production has declined drastically in the past two years. Nevada produced 1.7 million barrels of oil worth $18.4 million in 1994, a 9% decrease in volume and a 17% decrease in value from 1993. Production is expected to increase as new wells come into production; six new wells became producers in 1994: five in Railroad Valley and one in Pine Valley.
Nevada's geothermal electric power sales reached all-time high of 1,349,000 megawatt-hours worth $108 million in 1993, and remained the same in 1994. Nevada's geothermal power-generating capacity still stands at 208.6 megawatts but further increases are planned.
Most of the 1993 and 1994 production data reported here were collected by the Nevada Division of Minerals and the U.S Bureau of Mines. Some of the 1994 figures are still preliminary. For more complete information on Nevada's 1994 mineral production as well as other aspects of the Nevada mineral industry, see NBMG Special Publication MI-1994, The Nevada Mineral Industry 1994.
--- Dick Meeuwig, Editor