If there was ever any doubt about the potential for gold production in the Pequop Mountains it was shattered last week when Newmont Mining Corp. announced it plans to spend more than $2 billion to acquire Fronteer Gold’s Long Canyon Project.
The mountain range in eastern Elko County has been riddled with holes in recent years as exploration drills probed from one end of the range to the other. Word spread that this could be another Carlin Trend — or bigger.
Newmont’s hefty offer confirms that there’s gold in them hills ... lots and lots of gold.
It’s hard to overstate what this means for Elko County.
The incredible gold mining boom of the past few decades has been centered in and around the Carlin Trend, which is situated mostly in neighboring Eureka County. Needless to say, Eureka has been one county that doesn’t need to worry about balancing its budget.
Newmont officials told the Free Press last week that they expect the Pequop to be another Carlin Trend. If that’s true, they will be measuring production not by the ounce but by the ton. The Carlin Trend has produced more than $200 billion worth of gold in today’s gold prices, according to the University of Nevada, Reno.
The good thing about the Pequops is that the entire range is right here in Elko County.
Elko stands to become a very rich county, indeed. But what about the cities and towns?
The Pequop range is situated about halfway between Wells and Wendover. Both cities are hoping to cash in on the modern-day gold rush, anticipating the housing that will be needed by miners.
With Newmont’s North American headquarters right here in Elko, along with a massive warehouse and an abundance of established mining vendors, much of the commercial end of the business could stay put. After all, they will keep mining the Carlin Trend as operations ramp up in the Pequop.
As far as the long-term economic impact goes, the sky is the limit. Even if gold prices drop as they did in the late 1990s, we can be assured that gold mining will continue in the region. At best we will see expansion, while at worst it will be a matter of new mines rising in the east to replace old ones that peter out to the west.
The $2.33 billion Long Canyon deal is only the tip of what promises to be a very big iceberg. Newmont also will hold 40 percent of Agnico Eagle’s West Pequop exploration project if the deal goes through, as well as own the South Pequop Project that Golden Dory Resources Corp. is exploring in a joint venture. Other exploration companies that have claims in the area include Columbus Gold Corp., Mexivada Mining Corp. and Miranda Gold Corp.
Newmont has been mining in northeastern Nevada since the mid-1960s when it began as the Carlin Gold Mining Co. It is only fitting that the company expand its reach into our state’s next mother lode.
News of the deal came just a week after Newmont received long-awaited approval of its Emigrant Project, which is also located in Elko County. That’s 180 jobs.
Mark Twain could identify with our present situation, as it seems the reports we were hearing about the death of Nevada’s gold mining industry turned out to be greatly exaggerated.
Here in Elko all we can see is a big rainbow, extending from the west to the east.
And there’s a big pot of gold at both ends.
Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are John Pfeifer, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak. Todd Scott is the community adviser.
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