Telling the success stories of the mining industry became a theme of the 2017 Nevada Mining Association Convention’s last day Saturday, Sept. 9, at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe in Stateline.
“We have a good story,” said incoming NvMA Board Chairman Timothy Dyhr, vice president of environment and external relations for Nevada Copper.
Mining companies’ economic impact, community support, environmental reclamation and concern for safety were among the positive stories speakers had to share during the event, held Sept. 6-9. The benefits of mining in Nevada also became a focal point, as guests reflected on the past century of mining in the state.
“I really think Nevada is the best place in the world to mine,” Dyhr said, citing a favorable regulatory and political climate.
Katharine MacGregor, acting assistant secretary for lands and minerals management at U.S. Department of the Interior, said the federal government under the presidential administration recognizes the state’s contributions to the national economy and wants to foster the development of mineral resources.
“Mining in Nevada continues to be a sound investment for America,” she said, “and I assure you that Washington is listening.”
MacGregor touted positive statics from the state’s mining industry — success stories such as total minerals mined and jobs created — and said the department is interested in reducing “regulatory red tape.”
“We simply cannot and will not continue with policies in Washington that ignore important jobs in the West, like those in the mining industry, that put food on the table for so many families and communities,” she said. “We have been working to improve the way we make our public lands available for multiple use activities including hard-rock mining in order to ensure a vibrant economy in rural America.”
Bradley Crowell, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, also discussed state programs that affect mining, including programs for environmental protection, water resources, historic preservation and sagebrush ecosystem.
He echoed some of MacGregor’s comments regarding streamlining processes that mining companies must face, such as permitting, and reducing certain national regulations because Nevada already has arguably successful policies that cover those areas.
To recognize mining companies’ successes in environmental efforts, the Nevada Excellence in Mine Reclamation Awards for 2017 were presented at the event with four companies earning honors: Comstock Mining Inc., Kinross, Newmont Mining Corp. and Newmont Exploration.
“These operators are to be commended for their efforts to improve practices for mine reclamation, wildlife protection and habitat enhancement, said Rich Perry, administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals. “By sharing their designs and successes with other mine operators, the Nevada Mining and Exploration industries continue to lead the nation in successful reclamation and environmental protection practices.”
Economic analyst Jeremy Aguero with Applied Analysis described how mining is helping to establish Nevada as one of the strongest economies in the country. The industry pays the highest wages and generates four times its weight in general fund revenue, Aguero said.
“Even when the economy was at the absolute worst,” he said, “this industry continues to take care of its employees both in terms of keeping them employed and continuing to pay them more.”
Steve Hill, executive director of Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, lauded the mining industry’s workforce and community development initiatives, such as Barrick Gold Corp.’s support of Operation Bravo to help veterans get degrees and work experience through internships.
Those are the kinds of success stories, Aguero said, that help change the public’s perception and understanding of the mining industry in a positive way.
Perhaps no other story type, however, is more meaningful than those of mine workers staying safe and going home every night to their families. The NvMA Safety Awards crowned the convention on the last day, as the association bestowed 30 awards to mine operators and 42 awards to individuals.
“Safety continues to be the No. 1 priority for Nevada mining companies and employees,” said Dana Bennett, NvMA president. “NvMA is thrilled to give thanks to and recognize the hard-working men and women who continue to dedicate themselves to making mining one of the safest industries in our great state.”