Nevada is the nation's second-largest silver production, after only Alaska. Nevada generated 10.93 million troy ounces of silver in 2014, with 6,74 million ounces produced as a byproduct of gold mining. The number of mines in operation declined from about 180 in 1990 to about 70 in 2014.
Silver has been mined in Nevada since 1872. That's when William Clark, the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, harvested some 100 pounds (45 kg) of the metal from a small mine near present-day Ely. Mining in Nevada stopped during World War I but then resumed after the war ended. Today, most of the silver mined in the state is used in electronics and other products that include cell phones, computer chips, and medical equipment.
In 2014, mining companies extracted over 1 billion pounds of silver from mines in Nevada. The Silver State is expected to continue producing at this rate for several more years before declining production forces further cuts in output.
The total value of the silver produced in Nevada is greater than $700 million. By comparison, the value of the gold produced was about $140 million. Out of the entire volume of silver sold by Nevada producers, about 95 percent was exported, mainly to Asia.
Mining in Nevada has had a significant impact on the state's economy.
Gold mining is a major business in Nevada, a state in the United States, and one of the world's greatest sources of gold. Nevada produced 5,581,160 troy ounces (173.6 tonnes) of gold in 2018, accounting for 78 percent of US gold output and 5.0 percent of global production.
The surface deposits of gold in Nevada are limited and mostly depleted. Most gold in use today was mined over 100 years ago. But the technology needed to mine gold has only become more efficient and affordable per tonne of ore processed. As a result, gold mining remains a viable industry in Nevada and across the world.
Nevada is part of the Gold Country, so named because of its rich mineral deposits, which include gold, silver, copper, and zinc. The majority of these minerals are found in relatively shallow alluvial deposits, though some deeper mines exist as well. Many of the mines in the Golden State have been abandoned after their economic benefits were exhausted, but some remain in operation today.
Overall, Nevada has the third-largest amount of gold in the world behind only South Africa and Australia. In 2015, gold from Nevada accounted for 5% of the world supply.
In addition to gold, silver, copper, and zinc are also extracted from mines in Nevada. Although silver was once considered a major commodity in the state, it is now only used in small quantities for jewelry and other goods.
Nevada produced 5,641,538 troy ounces (175,470 kg) of gold worth $7.052 billion in 2017, accounting for 71% of gold produced in the United States and 5.6 percent of global output. Between 1835 and 2017, cumulative gold output in Nevada was 200,350,000 troy ounces (6,232 t), worth more than $260.5 billion in 2019 currency.
Nevada's gold production has increased steadily since 1970 when it was producing nearly a million dollars' worth of gold each month. In 2017, it was estimated to be about 0.75 million dollars' worth.
In 2018, Nevada's gold production was 740,000 oz which is down from 841,000 oz in 2017 but up from 699,000 oz in 2016. The increase in production is due to higher prices in 2018 which allowed miners to operate at profits instead of losses.
Gold has been the main driver behind Nevada's economic growth over the last two decades. Mining accounts for about 98% of all exports from the state, with the remainder mainly made up of tourism and government contracts. Nevada's economy is closely tied to gold prices because almost all gold mined in the state is exported. When prices are high, so is production; when prices decline, so does production.
The mining industry is by far the largest employer in the state with about 9,000 workers involved in mining operations. Other significant industries include tourism and commerce based around gaming machines and gold dealers.
The United States The United States is ranked tenth on the list of top silver-producing countries. It produced 980 metric tons of the metal in 2019, primarily from three specialized silver mines and over 40 additional base and precious metal mining activities spread around the country. Alaska and Nevada are the top two silver-producing states. Argentina is number nine.
Silver has many industrial applications, especially when used in photography. It is also used in jewelry. Its popularity as an investment metal has declined since 2011, when prices peaked.
Silver production has been declining for several years. Total output in 2019 was at its lowest level since 2001. The main reason behind this decline is that almost all major silver producers have adopted production cuts to limit damage to the environment caused by mining operations.
China produced about one-third of the world's silver last year, but its output should drop this year after the government banned the use of silver in electrical wiring because of concerns about pollution.
India's production of the metal was worth $125 million in 2019. It is still very small compared with China's but it is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.
Australia is the largest producer of gold but contains very little gold under ground. Most of it is found in our neighboring island nation of New Zealand. They share the resource but Australia produces more than twice as much as New Zealand, so they don't sell them to each other (illegal trade).
Nevada is best known for its gold, silver, and copper production, but it is also a key supplier of a range of minerals, including lithium, iron, and molybdenum, which are required for the creation of consumer and commercial goods that are essential to our modern lifestyles.
The most abundant mineral in Nevada is silicon, which creates semiconductors that are used in everything from smartphones to television sets. Other common minerals include zinc, aluminum, magnesium, and potassium.
Nevada has extensive mining operations that cover nearly all of the state. The two largest centers by output are Gold Country in the east, where gold was first discovered in 1859, and Silver Mountain in the west, where mining of silver ended in 1980 after more than $100 million had been extracted. Both regions boast historical towns with famous museums and galleries. Nevada's other major cities are Las Vegas (the world capital of tourism) and Reno (the capital).
Mining in Nevada has caused many problems with environmental impact. For example, mining activities can cause earthquakes because of pressure changes when rock layers are exposed during excavation. This problem is particularly evident in Northern Nevada where several large quakes have occurred over the last few decades. Mining has also damaged or destroyed water sources for communities who depend on them; for example, gold mining in California's Sierra Nevadas has led to the drying up of lakes and streams.