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Dana Bennett on rural Nevada and mining

"I’ve always been involved in mining policy in some way or the other. When I was the staff director at the Legislative committee on public lands working with (state) Sen. Rhoads, for all those years, mining was a major part of what the committee looked at, and it’s interesting. It’s interesting stuff. And, I love rural Nevada, love spending time in rural Nevada. I still own property in Elko County, out in Midas."

ELKO – In November, the Nevada Mining Association chose a new president to lead the organization.

Dana Bennett isn’t a native-born Nevadan, but I think some may argue the point since she’s lived in the Silver State since she was 9 months old.

Bennett was hired in November and took over the presidency of the association Dec. 1 after Tim Crowley resigned. He announced he was leaving the association in August.

Vacating the presidency after serving the association for six years, Crowley said he supported the hiring decision.

“I’ve known Dana for some time, and I am so pleased for her opportunity with the Nevada Mining Association,” said Crowley. “It’s an exciting time in a very dynamic industry. This association and its members, as well as Nevada mining, will be in excellent care under Dana’s watch.”

Before becoming the leader of the Nevada Mining Association, Bennett was the former regional director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and she owns Bennett Historical Research Services, where she compiled reports for the association. Her work with the association dates back to 2004 as she represented the NVMA with government affairs firm R&R Partners, Inc. She also served as staff director for Nevada’s Legislative Committee on Public Lands, and has experience in historical research and policy analysis with Morrison Institute for Public Policy in Phoenix.

The Mining Quarterly had a chance at the end of January to sit down with Bennett and discuss what she sees in the future for the association and the industry.

Here are some excerpts from the article that will appear in the Monday’s edition of the Mining Quarterly.

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Quarterly: You were working for the Governor’s Office when you were the regional director. What made you want to be the president of the Nevada Mining Association?

Bennett: I’ve always been involved in mining policy in some way or the other. When I was the staff director at the Legislative committee on public lands working with (state) Sen. (Dean) Rhoads, for all those years, mining was a major part of what the committee looked at, and it’s interesting. It’s interesting stuff. And, I love rural Nevada, love spending time in rural Nevada. I still own property in Elko County, out in Midas. It is one of the few jobs in the state that gets to be everywhere. ...

Mining Quarterly: One of the things with the Nevada Mining Association is having to deal with the Legislature. What do you think are your challenges this Legislative session?

Bennett: We do have some challenges. Obviously the first challenge is tax reform, any discussion of taxes. At the State of the State the governor laid out a comprehensive plan for education reform and tax reform. ... We really do commend his vision on this because education is so important to mining. We’re a high tech industry. We require a well trained, highly skilled educated workforce, and it’s important to our employees’ kids. Our kids are in these schools. They should be the best schools in the country we think. So his education reforms are important....

Quarterly: Here in rural Nevada we know a lot about mining. We understand the industry. What do you think people in the urban areas don’t understand? What do you think the main misconception is in places like Vegas and Reno?

Bennett: I think the biggest challenge with the urban areas is not necessarily that they’re sitting around thinking about mining and that’s the challenge. They don’t have a neighbor that works in mining. They don’t have a friend, a family member who works in mining, so it’s not even on their radar screen. I don’t think the average soccer mom in Las Vegas is pondering mining. So our challenge as an association and as an industry is to intersect into their lives at appropriate points and point out where mining is important to them, and where it’s important to them as people. ... We have 1 percent of the state’s workforce, with that 1 percent we produce 6 percent of the state’s — and I see you’ve got it right there (statistics on mining) — 6 percent of the state’s economy. We’re responsible for that, and we put over 7 percent into the general fund. So for every dollar that the state spends, 7 ½ cents comes from mining, and that affects – back to Las Vegas and our soccer mom – because of the way that the net proceeds tax of revenue goes into rural school districts that allows for more state money to go into the urban districts. It’s a complicated formula, it’s hard to explain, but there are ways mining benefits urban Nevada. And, it’s on us to help bring that message.

Quarterly: Now the other thing that gets brought up a lot is the fact the mining doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes. What’s your response?

Bennett: Six percent, 7 ½. And truly you know better than anybody because you work in words, it’s all in the definition. Nobody ever says; “What does fair share mean?” We say we are 6 percent of the economy providing over 7 percent of the state’s general fund and that’s just the general fund. We’re not talking about contributions to local governments and to school districts and including our charitable contributions, as you know the companies are very active with. So, my answer is we are paying more than our fair share.

For the full article, make sure to read Monday’s Mining Quarterly.

Explaining mining to urban areas “I don’t think the average soccer mom in Las Vegas is pondering mining. So our challenge as an association and as an industry is to intersect into their lives at appropriate points and point out where mining is important to them, and where it’s important to them as people.” Dana Bennett, President of the Nevada Mining Association
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