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“I can’t begin to tell you how very worthwhile it is to be here,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said to the local, regional and tribal leaders gathered in downtown Elko Tuesday evening, Aug. 6.

Sisolak had accepted an invitation from Nevada Gold Mines to take a tour of the Cortez Gold Mine to learn more about the mining industry in northern Nevada.

“I had a great time on the tour and I learned so much,” he said.

“It was an opportunity that everybody doesn’t get,” Sisolak added. “And the little boy did come out, when I got to go up in that truck. … I did beep the horn.”

“I’m very passionate about promoting who we are,” Barrick President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said the following day. “And that’s why the governor was here. We need to promote ourselves as a very significant component of this part of the state’s contribution to the state’s economy.”

“The fact that he made the effort to come and have a look, and engage with the people up here in the north is important,” Bristow said.

Bristow commented that in just a little over a month since Nevada Gold Mines started on July 1, the joint venture between Barrick and Newmont has hosted a tour for the Nevada governor and has also hosted an unsolicited visit from U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who visited the Cortez Gold Mine on July 23.

“So that’s not bad,” Bristow said. “Again, there’s a recognition of the importance of this part of the world.”

Sisolak’s background is in southern Nevada, and he served as the chair of the Clark County commission. He is a businessman but has not been involved in mining, but on Tuesday night he emphasized his support for the industry.

“I’ve seen the benefits that mining can bring to the state,” Sisolak said. “I’ve seen it here, I’ve seen it other areas.

“Mining gets a bad rap an awful lot of times. … Ninety-five percent of the people in southern Nevada do not understand this industry. They do not understand the capital intensiveness of this industry, they don’t understand what you provide. … I think we all as a group need to do a better job educating people about how important mining is to the state of Nevada.

“This is a foundational industry. Mining has been here a long time before we got here; it’s going to be here a long time after we’re here.”

Sisolak talked about the ways his tour of Cortez enhanced his understanding of the industry.

“When I saw the capital investment that’s put into these mines, it is absolutely astounding to me,” Sisolak said. “I got to go into the machine shop … and I talked to one of the guys. A set of six tires on one of those trucks is a quarter of million dollars.

“It’s absolutely amazing to see the investment that is made in this community. And they’re supporting the schools, they support UNR, they support UNLV, Great Basin, the high schools, philanthropic groups—they’re the first ones that step up and say, ‘What can we do to help?’”

“I’ll be candid, they gave me the glossy view of the company,” Sisolak said. “Then I kind of went behind and I talked to the men down in the mine. I got to pull some aside and say, what is this company really like, what do you think about working here? And let me tell you, I could not get better glowing reviews than I got from those folks. They wouldn’t work anyplace else. They’re absolutely thrilled to work there. And I’m telling you, it’s not an easy job.”

“I get an opportunity to tour an awful lot of businesses, every business you can imagine,” Sisolak said. “The pride that these employees take in what they’re doing is immeasurable. It’s so heartwarming to see that they really care and that they feel that they’re cared about.”

“This is a foundational legacy, generational type of job,” Sisolak said. “So many folks told me that they were the third generation that worked there, or the second, or the fourth generation that had been in the mining business.”

Cortez has been continuously mined since 1862.

“When we drove by … there were a lot of nice new shiny trucks in that parking lot. They’re making a great living, and they’re enjoying it, and they deserve it.”

“They take care of their employees,” Sisolak said. “It’s a family type of an operation, and that means an awful lot to me.

“Attracting good paying trade jobs has always been important to me; it’s one of our priorities in the state of Nevada. We had a lengthy discussion about how we could get more folks into these strains of the mining business.

“When I talked to the folks at the site this morning,” Sisolak said, “they’re not just looking for miners, they’re looking for accountants and public relations people and bookkeepers and mechanics, everything in the world. Every job opportunity in the world is available right there.”

“I’ve committed state resources to do whatever we can to get that message out to the high schools, so that kids know that this is an opportunity to support themselves and their family in a way that’s really unusual.”

He said that college is not for everybody, and he has seen young people who are in college because that is what they are expected to do, and they end up with a lot of student loan debt and then they get a low-paying job. For some, a career in mining might be a better option.

“I was highly encouraged by Governor Sisolak’s unequivocal support of Nevada’s mining industry in his address this evening,” Elko Mayor Reece Keener said. “He recognizes the high quality, high wage jobs that the mining industry creates for working families and the massive investments that Nevada Gold Mines has made in their workforce and in their operations across northern Nevada.”

Keener also commented that he feels good about how things have been going with the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture.

“I think that things are going smoothly,” Keener said “I think that a lot of the nervousness has calmed down. And definitely the joint venture has some significant tail winds with gold price increases. I think overall things are going to work out well. They still have a lot of work to do, obviously … They’ve got all the right people in the right seats, they just need to get everything flowing right, and it takes a while, with any new organization.”

“I know that the joint venture is getting very active on the community front,” Keener added, “and I have nothing but great things to say about the different things that they’ve been involved with, like working on broadband, as one example.”

Keener made a comment that got laughter and applause during the question and answer portion of the evening meeting with Sisolak.

“Southern Nevada might have MGM,” Keener said. “But we’ve got NGM.”

“That’s good,” Sisolak said.

“I would rather invest my money in NGM than MGM,” Keener added.

The evening gathering at Dalling Hall was hosted by Nevada Gold Mines, which is 61.5% owned and operated by Barrick, and 38.5% owned by Newmont Goldcorp.

“Yesterday’s event underscores the long-term benefits of the joint venture, including longer mine lives, longer-term employment opportunities, longer-term benefits to our local communities and suppliers and longer-term benefits to Nevada’s economic growth,” said a statement from Barrick.

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Mining Quarterly - Mining, state and county reporter

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