Although mineral prices fell and federal regulations are stalling the opening of new mines in the state, a new study shows that Nevada is still among the best areas in the country to mine.
Gold prices fell to a five-year low in mid-July dipping below $1,095 per ounce, but have rebounded as they were hovering around $1,114 per ounce as of press time Thursday.
Despite the fluctuating price that has been on the downward slope overall since 2010, mining leaders are confident that the industry is in relatively good shape despite the decline.
A number of findings showed losses in several key areas in the mining business in Nevada, all while the overall economy is growing in the state.
Nevada’s economy is strengthening, but the the mining industry’s gross domestic product is declining, as it is down 28.7 percent since 2012, according to the Nevada Mining Association.
The study also found the industry has lost 1,200 jobs (9.8 percent of its workforce) since 2013. It is the only economic sector in Nevada that lost jobs during the last calendar year.
The Round Mountain Gold mine that is located in Nye County is an important part of the community there. IF gold prices continue to dip lower, the industry in the area could take a major hit.
“Nye County will be in dire straights,” said county Commissioner Lorinda Wichman. “We think it’s bad now, the mining industry is having a hard time, gold prices are down, we’re in deep doo-doo.”
In 2014, the Nevada mining industry total economic output was $8.8 billion, down from $11 billion in 2013.
Despite current mineral prices, mining companies continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in existing Nevada operations, including exploration.
In 2014, the Nevada mining industry paid $246 million in state and local taxes. The average annual wages in the industry are $91,936, more than double the state average.
With the heightened pay scale the mining industry offers, the jobs related to the mines mean a great deal to the area.
“The mining industry has been remarkably important to the state of Nevada for decades, employing tens of thousands of people and providing good paying jobs,” analyst Jeremy Aguero said. “They are STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs – exactly the type of jobs we are trying to attract and retain in the state of Nevada.”
Nevada Mining Association President Dana Bennett explained that despite the depressed numbers that there is hope for things to pick up and level out as far as the industry goes.
“This new analysis indicates that despite falling commodity prices, there is optimism among our members that prices will stabilize,” Bennett said. “Our members are excited to be part of Nevada’s economic diversification. A successful advanced manufacturing sector needs a healthy mining sector to provide necessary metals and minerals. As Nevada’s oldest STEM industry, mining will continue as a cornerstone of the Nevada economy.”