Nevada miners set minerals-production record in 2006

A record $5.1 billion worth of minerals was mined in Nevada in 2006.

That is $1.4 billion more than the value of minerals produced in 2005 and the majority of the increase was in gold.

Gold production was actually lower than in 2005 - 6.3 million ounces compared to 6.85 million. But Alan Coyner, head of the Nevada Division of Minerals, said the average price of gold rose from $445 an ounce to $603 an ounce. That puts the calculated value of gold production in Nevada at $3.8 billion, nearly $800 million more than the previous year.

Coyner said Nevada continues to be the nation's top gold producer, producing 78 percent of the total mined in the U.S. The state produces 12 percent of the world's gold.

The state also produced 127.5 million pounds of copper worth $389 million in 2006.

Silver production dropped 1.5 million ounces to 8.45 million ounces. But, as with gold, the total value of the silver produced was up from $73 million to $98 million. The average price of silver in 2006 was $11.54 an ounce.

Industrial-mineral production also increased in 2006. Industrial minerals in Nevada include aggregates, barite, clay, diatomite, dolomite, gypsum, lime and limestone, lithium, magnesium, mercury, opals, perlite, salt and silica. The total value of those minerals mined in 2006 was $860 million.

Coyner said the rising value of minerals also spurred more mineral exploration activity in 2006. He said that should produce more mines to further increase the profitability of the industry.

"They're plowing it back into the ground, exploring for more ore," he said. "Which will mean more equipment, more jobs, more property taxes."

Mineral production in Nevada

Mineral 2005 2006 Difference

Gold $3.05 billion $3.8 billion $750 million

Silver $73 million $98 million $25 million

Industrial $560 million $860 million $300 million

Copper $170 million $389 million $219 million

Total $3.7 billion $5.1 billion $1.4 billion

Source: Nevada Division of Minerals


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