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Nevada nation's No. 1 gold producer in 2017

Nevada Division of Minerals Administrator Rich Perry shared this graph showing statewide gold production results at an SME meeting in May.

CARSON CITY — Gold production in Nevada increased more than 3 percent in 2017 compared to last year while gold prices were up slightly, according to reports released in May by the Nevada Division of Minerals.

Nevada’s mines produced 5.64 million ounces of gold in 2017. This total was up 3.2 percent from the 2016 production level of 5.47 million ounces. The average annual price of gold increased slightly from $1,251 per ounce in 2016 to $1,257 per ounce in 2017.

Nevada continues to be the nation’s top gold-producing state, contributing 72 percent of the total U.S. gold production in 2017 of 7.88 million ounces, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Gold is Nevada’s No. 1 export, with a 2017 value of about $6.29 billion, the division reported at the SME Northern Nevada Section on May 14, citing statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Utah is the nation’s only other major gold exporter, with nearly half of Nevada’s production value. Other states with major precious stone or mineral exports are Alaska, with the biggest export being zinc; and New York, with the biggest export being diamonds.

Nevada produced 5.6 percent of total world gold production in 2017, ranking fifth behind China, Australia, Russia and Canada.

Seventeen operators ran 27 gold mines in the state in 2017. The two most prolific gold producers in 2017 were Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp., followed by Kinross Gold Corp. and SSR Mining Inc., according to an annual status and production report draft presented to the Commission on Mineral Resources on May 17.

Silver production in 2017 decreased 5.2 percent to 8.48 million ounces from the 2016 production level of 8.95 million ounces. The average annual price of silver decreased slightly from $17.14 in 2016 to $17.04 per ounce in 2017.

Fifteen operators mined 24 silver sites in the state in 2017, the division states in its SME presentation. Nevada has only one primary silver mine, Coeur Mining Inc.’s Rochester mine near Lovelock.

Nevada’s copper production in 2017 was 146 million pounds, down 9 percent from 2016. The average price of copper in 2017 was $2.79 per pound.

KGHM International was the state’s only primary copper mine in 2017, producing 113 million pounds last year. Newmont Mining Corp.’s Phoenix mine also produced copper as a secondary mineral, with production of 33 million pounds. KGHM International also reported molybdenite production at 652,763 pounds in 2017.

Industrial mineral production in Nevada in 2017 included aggregates, barite, diatomite, dolomite, gypsum, lime and limestone, lithium compounds, magnesium compounds, molybdenite, opals, perlite, salt, silica sand and specialty clays.

The number of active mining claims in Nevada increased 9 percent from January 2017 to February 2018, to 194,348, according to the division’s SME presentation.

In addition to assisting in the responsible exploration for minerals, the Nevada Division of Minerals is responsible for permitting, inspecting, and monitoring all oil, gas, geothermal and dissolved mineral exploration drilling activities on both public and private lands.

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Mining Quarterly - Mining, state and county reporter

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