Nevada still nation’s top gold producer in 2002 |

Nevada still nation’s top gold producer in 2002

Appeal Capitol Bureau

Nevada mines produced 7.7 million ounces of gold in 2002 and, despite the hard times the industry has reported for the past few years, the gold was worth more money than that produced in Nevada during 2001.

The calculated value of Nevada’s 2002 gold production was $2.4 billion compared with $2.2 billion the year before. The reason: Gold prices increased from an average of $271 an ounce during 2001 to $310 an ounce last year.

Mining employment, however, has dropped for several years in Nevada as marginal mines shut down while waiting for gold prices to rise. That reduced mining tax revenues to the state from $15 million in fiscal 1999 to $9.4 million in fiscal 2002. Revenues were expected to climb back to $10.7 million this fiscal year as prices once again rose but there is no real sign of increasing employment in the industry as yet.

Alan Coyner, Division of Minerals administrator, said precious metal production declined in 2002 but that exploration activity increased significantly. That, he said, should lead to additional discoveries and production in the future.

Coyner said Nevada also led the nation in silver production in 2002 with 13.5 million ounces. That is 22 percent less than production in 2001 and, based on an average price of $4.60 an ounce, that silver was worth $62 million in 2002 compared to $76 million the year before.

Industrial mineral production, he said, remained relatively steady at about $300 million. Industrial minerals range from aggregates and clays to gypsum, lime and limestone, magnesium compounds, salt and sand as well as opals and turquoise.

Altogether, Coyner said the total value of mined commodities in Nevada during 2002 was about $2.8 billion.