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LAKE TAHOE — Production costs and educating the state’s populace were two of the main issues during the annual Nevada Mining Association Convention last week.

The convention ended Sept. 12 with most of the morning filled with speakers including people from the industry and state and federal government agencies. The 37th annual association Safety Awards and state reclamation awards were handed out during a luncheon.

Kris Sims, vice president and regional financial officer of the Americas for Kinross Gold Corp. and chairman of the board of the Nevada Mining Association told the audience the association has done its job well of fighting for the industry.

“It’s important that all Nevadans understand just how important mining is to the Silver State,” Sims said.

In 2013, mining created about 26,000 jobs across the state and was responsible for 1 percent of jobs statewide.

“Though that number may seem small, 1 percent received an annual salary of approximately $88,000 a year,” Sims said. “That’s more than double the average of other employees in the state. … Modern mining is a high-tech profession that offers rewarding and high-paying careers.”

However, the industry has been struggling especially with the price of gold hovering around $1,100.

Sims said the reason for struggle is also because the costs of production have increased. The effect of costs made the industry report its financials differently and start using all-in sustaining costs. Unlike reports before 2013, companies now include all costs, from exploration to closing, to show investors and the public what it takes financially to dig minerals from the earth. He said even with the new reporting, there are still a few costs left out, such as working capital, finance charges and growth capital.

He told the audience members to pay particular attention the next time they read a quarterly report.

“Look for that terminology, all-in sustaining costs,” he said. “You’re going to see that number very closely to the $1,100 per ounce, at least for the gold producers.”

Dale Erquiaga, chief strategy officer for the state, talked about the state’s tax plan and its focus on improving education in Nevada.

Erquiaga said Gov. Brian Sandoval focused on education because he was “tired of Nevada being at the top of all the bad lists and the bottom of all the good lists.”

He said the state is taking “a business like focus to education.” He said the school programs being funded by the state will be monitored, and if a program doesn’t work “we will turn the money off.”

Erquiaga said he was glad the Nevada Mining Association board took a position for this new Nevada with its new focus on education. Many speakers throughout the day, including Erquiaga, said mining was the state’s original STEM industry. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Since the industry relies heavily on all four of these areas, students throughout Nevada need a good foundation in their education.

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