3. MINERAL RESOURCE OCCURRENCES
ineral resources within Eureka County are classified into three major categories: locatable minerals (i.e., base metals, precious metals, and industrial minerals); leasable minerals (i.e., oil and gas, coal, phosphate and geothermal areas); and saleable minerals (e.g., common varieties of sand and gravel). Each of these categories is discussed separately below.
3.1 Locatable Mineral Resource Occurrences
Locatable minerals are minerals for which the right to explore, develop and extract mineral resources on federal lands open to mineral entry is established by the location (or staking) of lode or placer mining claims as authorized under the General Mining Law (May of 1872) (as amended).
Examples of locatable minerals historically or currently mined within Eureka County include metallic minerals (i.e.: gold, silver, copper, mercury, zinc, molybdenum, uranium, tungsten, iron, etc) and non-metallic minerals (i.e.: limestone, barite, gypsum, diatomaceous earth, fluorspar and opals).
Nevada produced more gold, barite and gypsum than any other state in the nation in 2004 and was second in the production of silver, behind Alaska. Nevada is the world's third largest gold producer behind South Africa and Australia.
Mining in Nevada also produces a variety of other mineral commodities including aggregates, copper, diatomite, dolomite, gemstone, limestone, lithium and magnesium compounds, perlite, potassium sulfate, salt, silica sand, specialty aggregates. In all, Nevada mineral production in 2004 was valued at about $3.3 billion (excluding oil and geothermal energy) and precious metals accounted for about $3.0 billion of that total.
3.1.2 Mining History and Districts
Silver was discovered in Eureka County in 1862 at the Cortez mining district. The Diamond and Eureka districts had discoveries soon after. Development of the discoveries was slow throughout the 1860's, until metallurgical problems were solved. Throughout the 1870's and into the late 1880's production was high until the high-grade ores began to be depleted. Aiding the high production was construction of the Central Pacific (currently Southern Pacific) railroad across Nevada in 1869 and the Eureka Palisade railroad to the town of Eureka in 1875.
As other districts were discovered, mining continued to play a very important part in Eureka County's history. Currently the Eureka, Lynn, and Maggie Creek mining districts are very active. Please refer to
3.1.3 Current Mining Activity
To gauge the current activity of the mining districts and surrounding areas, a comparison of sections with previously active (now closed claims) and currently active claims was performed. To see these comparisons go to Figure 3.1.3 below for a map of Eureka Mining Claim Activity. Note that the Carlin rail corridor crosses several sections with currently active mining claims.
Today, gold is by far the most important metallic mineral mined in Eureka County. Eureka County produces about 36 percent of all Nevada gold. Major active gold mines in the county are the Betze/Post, the Genesis and Post mines at the Carlin North complex, the Carlin and Gold Quarry mines at the Carlin South complex, Cortez, Meikle, and Ruby Hill mines.
The Betze/Post, Genesis, Carlin, and Meikle mines are located in the Lynn mining district. The Gold Quarry mine is located in the Maggie Creek Mining District. The Ruby Hill mine is located in the Eureka mining district.
In 2005, a new mining permit was approved for the East Archimedes within the Eureka mining district (Price and Meeuwig, 2006). For this new gold mine, mining was slated to start in 2006.
Gold mining is the principal economic engine of Eureka County. Between the years 1997 and 2003, Eureka County mines annually produced between $1.08 billion and $865 million of gold and silver. In 2005, there were 3,466 jobs in gold mining in Eureka County: this is over 90 percent of county jobs. County taxes on net proceeds of minerals are annually between $4.4 and $1.2 million, and mining companies are the principal taxpayers in the county.
3.1.4 Mineral Exploration
Mineral exploration, particularly for gold, is an ongoing enterprise in Nevada by both operators of existing mines and by outside exploration companies. Exploration has been extremely active recently (2007) as gold prices have sustained levels above $600/ounce. Driesner and Coyner (2005) in their Nevada Exploration Survey, 2004, reported that 22 companies responding to their survey had spent $79.9 million on Nevada exploration activities in 2004.
In 2005, Eureka County had significant mineral exploration activity. The districts with significant exploration activity in 2005 were Antelope, Buckhorn, Cortez, Eureka, Lone Mountain, Lynn, Maggie Creek, and Roberts mining districts (Price and Meeuwig, 2006).