Petition aimed at raising taxes on mining industry
Associated Press Writer
RENO – Conservationists, labor leaders and others launched a petition drive Tuesday to raise taxes on Nevada’s mining industry, claiming it doesn’t pay its fair share as the state faces a budget crisis despite being the nation’s biggest gold producer.
Backers of the proposal say it if had been in place in 2008, the mining industry would have paid an estimated $284 million in taxes on $5.7 billion worth of mineral production to state and county governments – more than triple what they paid.
They said that money would go a long way toward addressing a looming budget shortfall that Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons says could approach $400 million over the next two years without additional cuts in state health and human services, schools and universities.
“We are not opposed to mining. We just know they are making a heck of a lot of money right now,” said Jan Gilbert, a lobbyist and co-founder of the Nevada Progressive Leadership Alliance that also is made up of educators and social activists.
“They need to contribute and they haven’t for a long time,” she said.
The proposal needs more than 97,000 signatures to make the fall ballot. It would amend the state constitution to require mining companies to pay taxes on a minimum 5 percent of their gross proceeds. The current tax is limited to a maximum of 5 percent on net proceeds before most expenses are deducted.
Bob Fulkerson, PLAN’s executive director, said mines actually end up paying taxes on less than 1 percent of the value of the minerals mined in Nevada. In 2008, he said they paid $79 million – about $40 million each to the state and counties.
Nevada’s two-largest gold mines – Barrick Goldstrike Mine and Newmont’s Carlin Trend project – have reported zero taxable values during some years when they have produced gold worth $500 million or more, Fulkerson said.
“We are literally sitting on a gold mine here in Nevada. It is mostly foreign owned and it is clearly under-taxed,” he said Tuesday. “This great wealth is being exploited while so many other needs are ignored.”
Only South Africa, Australia and China produce more gold than Nevada.