Precious metals accounted for more than three-quarters of mining exploration in 2018. In background, reclamation work is done on Elko-based U.S. Gold Corp.'s Copper King property near Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Companies spent at least $460.1 million exploring for minerals and energy resources in Nevada in 2018, up 31 percent over the 2017 expenditure of $351.2 million, according to a new survey by the Nevada Bureau of Mines.

“It’s a reversal of what was a five-year downward cycle, and we have seen that in the number of mining claims, which are over 200,000,” said Richard Perry, administrator of the state Division of Minerals. “It’s really a good news story.”

“Nevada is considered a stable and perspective domicile for exploration,” said Perry, whose division, along with the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources, supported the survey.

Most of the exploration companies also reported they planned to spend at least as much this year in Nevada as they have in past years, if not more. The survey of 172 companies actively exploring in Nevada found that 81 percent of them would be spending as much or more as they have in the past.

“That bodes well that companies said they would spend the same or more,” said survey author Michael Ressel, an assistant professor and research geologist for the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Both Ressel and Perry said the Fraser Institute’s ranking of Nevada as the most attractive investment jurisdiction worldwide in 2018 should give Nevada a boost in marketing the state for exploration and mining.

The Fraser Institute’s ranking of Nevada as the top in investment attractiveness is “a huge honor for Nevada. Being number one means people have confidence,” Ressel said. “Nevada has a good track record.”

The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank that surveys companies each year, released its report for 2018 in March, so the ranking came after the Nevada exploration survey was done, but Nevada has always had a good ranking. The state placed third overall in 2017, and was first overall in 2014.

Read the full article coming June 6 in the Summer edition of the Mining Quarterly.

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