Gibbons to review mining fee increase

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Wednesday he wants to review the agreement between the mining commission and the University of Nevada Reno before deciding whether he supports the fee increase.

The Commission on Mineral Resources voted Tuesday to adopt a plan worked out by the mining industry and UNR to raise the annual mining claim fee $2 and dedicate the money raised to the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering.

With more than 220,000 mining claims in the state, that fee will generate about $450,000 a year to help support the mines school. Alan Coyner, administrator of the Minerals Division, said the industry supports the plan because it badly needs the geologists and mining engineers the school produces.

"Their need for these graduates is huge," he said Tuesday.

Gibbons said he wants to examine the interlocal agreement before giving the plan his stamp of approval. While he has steadfastly opposed increases in taxes or fees, he has said in the past he can support some increases if they are sought by and supported by those who will have to pay the tab.

Gibbons said even though the industry is supporting the plan, "I still want to see it." He said he wants to make certain the school actually gets the money.

He said it's important to note that the mining industry "is doing well in this turbulent economic period." He said UNR needs to recognize the importance of the school to the state.

He will get his chance to review the agreement when the issue comes before the Board of Examiners, which he chairs.

The $2 increase will bring the amount miners pay the state each year to keep their claims to $8.50. In addition, miners pay the county where each claim is located $2 a year.

The biggest cost to them, however, is the $125 annual federal mining claim fee.

In Nevada, Coyner said, more than a third of all mining claims are held by the two largest mining corporations: Barrick and Newmont.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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