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Gold production’s value jumps in 2020

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Mineral values

The value of all minerals produced in Nevada totaled nearly $9.5 billion in 2020, up from a little more than $8.1 million in 2019. Gold production’s value was up 20.9% over 2019 to nearly $8.2 billion, according to the Nevada Division of Minerals.

Gold production was down by 4.8%, however, to 4.63 million ounces, compared with 4.87 million ounces in 2019.

The value of gold rose because of higher gold prices in 2020, with the 2020 average price at $1,769.64 per ounce, compared with an average $1,392.60 an ounce in 2019, Kitco’s London fix figures show.

Silver production in 2020 was at nearly 6.13 million ounces, down 2.5% from 2019’s production of 6.28 million ounces, with the value at nearly $125.89 million, up 23.6%, and copper production totaled a little more than 154.26 million pounds, up 7.3%, with a value of $431.94 million, up 10.5%.

“Looking at the figures, it seems like there was a slight impact to mining from COVID-19, but mining was one of the least impacted industries in 2020,” said Michael Visher, the Nevada Division of Minerals administrator.

“The decrease in gold production was due to a combination of factors—COVID-19, the impacts of lower grades and the switch to more underground mining,” he said. “As more switch, we can expect production to go down.”

Underground mining is more resource intensive and can’t be done at the volume of open pit mining, so ore grades need to be higher underground to make the mining economical, Visher said.

The highest number of gold ounces produced in Nevada was 8.87 million in 1998, when nearly all the gold came from surface mines, but the value of the gold produced was highest in 2012 at $9.4 billion. That year the gold price averaged $1,668.98 per ounce and production was 5.6 million ounces.

The Nevada Mineral Industry publication for 2019 put out by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology states that the 2019 gold production of 4.87 million ounces was the first time that gold production in Nevada fell below 5 million ounces since 2014.

Nevada Gold Mines was tops in gold production last year at nearly 3.47 million ounces, according to the Nevada Division of Minerals figures.

NGM’s silver production totaled nearly 1.29 million ounces. NGM’s copper production was 41.96 million pounds, the figures show. NGM is a joint venture of Barrick Gold Corp., 61.5%, and Newmont Corp., 38.5% that includes Carlin, Cortez, Turquoise Ridge, Phoenix and Long Canyon operations.

Kinross Gold produced 503,950 ounces of gold and 998,257 ounces of silver in 2020 from its Bald Mountain and Round Mountain mines, followed by SSR Mining’s gold production of 234,443 ounces of gold and 3,329 ounces of silver from the Marigold Mine.

In fourth place, Jerritt Canyon Mine, then owned by Jerritt Canyon Gold, produced 112,749 ounces of gold. The mine is now owned by First Majestic Silver. Argonaut Gold produced 46,866 ounces of gold and 27,490 ounces of silver from its Florida Canyon Mine in 2020.

Coeur’s Rochester Mine was the highest silver producer in the state at a little more than 3.17 million ounces. The highest copper producer was KGHM, which produced 109.64 million pounds in 2020 at the Robinson Mine near Ely, along with 426,538 pounds of molybendite, a mineral composed of molybdenum and sulfur, and 38,801 ounces of gold and 199,382 ounces of silver.

The value of all minerals produced in the state totaled nearly $9.5 billion, ranging from gold to geothermal energy and oil, according to the division figures, which are in the new Major Mines booklet published by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Lithium compounds shipped totaled 6.9 million pounds, down 12.5%, with a value of $28.54 million, down 20.8% from 2019, and barite shipped totaled 166,136 tons, down 3.5% from the prior year, with a value of $23.85 million, down 51.8%, the new charts show. Molybdenite production was at 426,538 pounds, down 44.4%, with value of $3.87 million, down 57.3%.

Geothermal energy sold in 2020 was 3.96 million megawatt hours, up 2.7%, valued at a little more than $313,956 million, up 1%, while oil sold amounted to 218,372 barrels, down 17.3%, for a value of $7.33 million, down 47.8%.

Diatomite production was at 419,893 tons, up 52.1%, with a value of $50.86 million, up 6.9%, and dolomite production was at 37,075 tons, down 16.7%, with a value of $4.35 million, down 4.4%. Gypsum production was at nearly 2.42 million tons, up 25.2% at a value of $41.37 million, up 43.6%.

Limestone production was at 3.22 million tons, down 15.8%, valued at $34.68 million, down 6.7% from 2019, and magnesium compounds shipped totaled 124,088 tons, up 4.7% and valued at $8.58 million, up 34%. Perlite production was at 2,715 tons, up 22.7%, valued at $668,199, down 3.8%.

Salt shipped totaled 15,042 tons, down 38.7% and valued at $511,428, down 38.7%, while shipped silica sand totaled 570,097 tons, down 7.7% from 2019, with a value of $14.32 million, down 17.2%. Specialty clays totaled 191,689 tons, up 60.9%, for a value of $11.15 million, down 19.6%. Production of aggregates was at 24.7 million tons, down 26.3%, for a value of $197 million, down 22.7%.

Visher said the Major Mines booklet “distributed freely” by the Nevada Division of Minerals at various events is also online under programs-mining at the division’s website. 

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