Gold production in Nevada totaled a little more than 4.63 million ounces in 2020, down 4.8% from 2019, according to new figures from the Nevada Division of Minerals, which put the value of the gold at nearly $8.2 billion, up 20.9% from 2019.
The value 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, according to Kitco’s London fix figures.
Silver production in 2020 was at nearly 6.13 million ounces, down 2.5% from 2019, 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, administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals.
“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 on Oct. 13. “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 have to be higher underground to make the mining economical, Visher said.
Gold production totaled nearly 4.87 billion ounces in 2019, and silver production was at 6.28 million ounces that year.
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 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.
Nevada Gold Mines was tops in gold production last year at nearly 3.47 million ounces, and 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., 68.5%, and Newmont Corp., 38.5% that includes the 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, according to the just-released figures.
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, and the highest copper producer was KGHM, which produced 109.64 million pounds in 2020, along with 426,538 pounds of molybdenite, a mineral composed of molybdenum and sulfur, and 38,801 ounces of gold and 199,382 ounces of silver at the Robinson Mine near Ely.
The value of all minerals produced in the state totaled nearly $9.5 billion, ranging from gold to geothermal energy and oil.
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.
Figures for all the minerals produced in Nevada last year will be in the new Major Mines 2020 booklet that will come out later this month, published by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and available on the Nevada Division of Minerals website. The division also distributes the booklets for free at various events.