Mining has long been an integral part of Nevada’s history—from Native American use of its mineral wealth to fashion tools to today’s modern industrial mining operations.
Nevada’s silver deposits were a major reason for Nevada’s admission into the United States in 1864, and mining has since positioned the state as a global leader in the production of strategic minerals in the development of new technologies.
Founded in 1913, the Nevada Mining Association is one of Nevada’s oldest trade associations, representing a broad spectrum of the industry.
“There’s mining essentially everywhere,” said President Dana Bennett, Ph.D., in a recent interview. “Our association represents all the businesses involved within the industry—whether it’s exploration, development, operations, reclamation or vendors.”
Having a long and respected track record, it is no surprise that the association has 400+ members. In fact, of the 116 mines in Nevada, many of them are members as well.
“We have strong relationships with state government agencies and represent the industry at the legislature,” explained Bennett. “We assist with facilitating conversations between the federal and state regulators and the companies.”
In addition, the Nevada Mining Association provides multiple opportunities for its members to collaborate and get to know one another. From events to committees, members can meet and discuss best practices, discuss solutions for resolving issues and learn from one another.
Educating the residents (and visitors) of Nevada
Nevada is a very urban state, with the majority of the population living in Las Vegas and Reno. Of that population, most are transplants. For that reason alone, the Nevada Mining Association strives to continue to tell the story of Nevada’s mining industry.
“It’s important that [residents] understand the role that mining plays in their daily lives,” said Bennett. “And how important the industry is to the state economy.”
As a source for accurate and credible information about mining in Nevada, the association has many different ways of providing information to the public. One of those methods is the interactive mine tour offered on their website.
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From aerial overviews to exploring the surface of a mine to experiencing a gold refinery, the interactive tour allows visitors to get a first-hand feel of the industry.
“We also have a larger display at the airport,” added Bennett. “It’s quite a large exhibit as people are going to the Southwest Airlines gates. There are terrific mineral samples and a full-size interactive mine exploration opportunity.”
“We work very hard to be a respected and credible source of accurate information,” she said. “Part of that is pushing out information, the other part is responding to inaccurate information that might be out there.”
The Nevada Mining Association and education
In partnership with the Nevada Division of Minerals, for 25 years the Nevada Mining Association has hosted teacher earth science workshops to help public, private and home instructors educate future generations.
With one workshop in the spring and one in the summer in southern and northern Nevada, the workshops provide classroom instructions and ideas for lessons plans and field trips. Teachers who participate also receive a university credit or a Professional Development credit.
“It’s a very popular program,” said Bennett. “Our workshop this last spring in Las Vegas had well over 100 teachers. They participate and they learn about minerals and then take that new information back to their students.”
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The goal of the workshops is to educate K-12 Nevada teachers about the earth sciences, the importance of mined materials and the role that mining plays.
Dedicated to the better education of the youth, another workshop will be hosted in mid-July.
A voice for Nevada’s mining industry
Nevada mines employ over 12,000 people in jobs with the highest average wages and most comprehensive benefit programs in the state. These mines continue to produce gold, silver and copper. Another 2,000 companies—mostly small businesses and family-owned companies—make their living providing goods and services to mining operations.
All together, the mining industry is “a responsible and responsive corporate citizen in Nevada,” offering employment opportunities, substantial taxes and “actively participating in the cultural lives of communities.”
The Nevada Mining Association is constantly looking for ways to champion Nevada’s mining industry.
“We’re proud of Nevada’s mining industry and work hard to get that message out,” said Bennett.
One of the most important parts of the mining industry is that it requires constant exploration, according to Bennett. In a state like Nevada, with its unique geology and geography, there are constantly new things to find.
“It’s important to understand that mining didn’t just happen in the past,” explained Bennett. “We don’t know what we’re going to need 50 years from now, and so exploration for new metals and minerals, and the innovative ways of using them, are important for our future.”