Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Area reports: domestic 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 2 (1978-1979)
Lockard, D. W.; Schilling, John H.
Nevada, pp. 337-349 ff. PDF (1.4 MB)
337The Mineral Industry of Nevada This chapter has been prepared under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, for collecting information on all nonfuel minerals. By D. W. Lockard1 and John H. Schilling2 Nevada norifuel mineral production for 1978 was $237 million and for 1979 it was $238 million. Values in both years were somewhat less than the record output of $270 million in 1977. The lower value was primarily the result of lower copper production. Nevada saw the value of its produced copper fall from nearly $90 million in 1977 to less than $1 million in 1979. This was due to depressed market conditions for the past 2 years and mine closures of Kennecott Copper Corp. at McGill, and the Anaconda Co.'s Yerington facility in Lyon County. Renewed environmental regulations, primarily air standards, also played an important part in decline of the State's copper industry. The State produced 24 mineral comniodities in 1977, and 25 each in 1978 and 1979. During 1978-79, exploration and development of gold-silver properties continued with a significant upswing. Discovery of new precious metal deposits, coupled with rising prices and reevaluation of old mining districts, kepi the spotlight on Nevada for both years. It was estimated that during 1978 more than $75 million was spent on hard reck mineral exploration throughout Nevada. Trends and Developments.—The State's copper industry was in the news extensively during the past 2 years. Since the early 1930's, and through 1977, copper accounted for about 60% of the State's total mineral output value. In 1978, the three leading producers shut down, citing poor copper market conditions and environmental restrictions as reasons for their closures. Officials from Anaconda, the Walker River Irrigation District, and Lyon County, began meeting early in 1978 to consider what to do with the big open pit at Anaconda's Yerington site. The proposal receiving the most consideration was to use the pit to store excess water for use in irrigation. An engineering study found the reservoir idea feasible; however, no work had begun on the project by yearend 1979. In 1978, the Anaconda Co. leased its Victoria Mine in Elko County to Day Mines, Inc.; Day Mines spent most of 1979 in performing evaluation and feasibility studies. Kennecott closed its open pit mine at Ruth and a concentrator at McGill on May 1, 1978, laying off more than 450 employees. About 300 employees remained at the McGill smelter to process copper concentrate shipped by rail from Kennecott's Utah operation. Kennecott also began engineering feasibility studies on recovering copper from tailings at McGill. The firm continued to be involved in a controversy with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about air quality. Early in 1978, EPA rejected results of an air quality report prepared by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection that placed the McGill smelter in a special category. An injunction granted by the U.S. District Court against EPA required that agency to approve the variance, but the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later set aside the
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