The Eureka County Economy

Mining jobs continue to surpass all other Eureka County jobs combined, with 3,466 of the total 3,806 jobs in the county reported by the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation in 2005. Mining employment dropped slightly in 2003 and 2004, but rose again in 2005.

Government is the second-largest employment category in the county, with 178 jobs reported in 2005. Of these, local government is the largest employer, with 168 jobs in 2005. Government employment dropped over the four-year period shown in the following chart and table, from 204 government jobs in 2002 to 178 in 2005. Accomodation and food service jobs rose from in the four-year period from 25 to 38 jobs.

Comparison with 1993-2000 Employment Data in 2003 Socioeconomic Conditions and Trends Update.

The 2003 Socioeconomic Conditions and Trends Update showed employment in several major industries for the period 1993-2000. Since that report was prepared, some key ways of tracking industrial employment have changed. In 2001, federal and state agencies began classifying industrial employment by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), rather than the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) that was used from 1969-2000.

In the new system, it is possible to break down employment more precisely by sub-industry, however, the industries listed in the two classification systems are not exactly the same. This makes it difficult to compare numbers under the two systems. In addition, this more precise sub-classification makes it so that in an area like Eureka County, with a small population and industrial base, all of the employment in a particular industry may be in only one enterprise.

The agencies then suppress these numbers in order to maintain business confidentiality. The result of this suppression is that in Eureka County, data about most industries is suppressed. The Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) suppresses less data than the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), but the state agency also does not include some key employment sectors in Eureka County, most notably agriculture, and counts the number of jobs differently in some other ways.

For all these reasons, it was not possible to build a single table or chart showing employment numbers for the entire period 1993-2005: the systems of measurement have changed too much over the period. The table showing employment from the 2003 Update is reproduced in this report, however, to give the reader some sense of the type of industrial employment in Eureka County over the entire 1993-2006 period.

In the 13-year period shown in the firest table listed below, the unemployment rate in Eureka County peaked at 10.7 % in 1994, well above state and national unemployment rates. The unemployment rate fell to a low of 2.5% in 2000, then rose again to 4.9 percent in 2006., making the County's 2006 unemployment rate lower than the national rate but higher than the Nevada rate. The mining sector appears to affect not only the unemployment rate in the county, but also the size of the labor force itself. The years 1996-1998 were the three biggest years in the county for mining employment, also services and trade employment.

Unemployment rates reflect these jobs, falling from the 1994 high of 10.7% to 5.3% in 1998, while during the same period the overall size of the labor force grew from 750 in 1994 to 950 in 1998. Subsequent to 1998, when mining employment began to decline, the overall size of the labor force declined, from the 1998 high of 950 to 683 in 2005. This decline in the overall size of the labor force, then, contributed to a continued drop in the county unemployment rate. Fewer jobs were available, yet there were also fewer workers seeking jobs.

Eureka County has more jobs than workers. This is a result of the location of the county's biggest employers, Newmont Mining Company's Carlin Operations, and Barrick Goldstrike's Goldstrike Mine. Both these operations are in the far northern end of the county, closer to the Lander County and Elko County population centers of Battle Mountain, Elko and Carlin than to Eureka County's population centers of Crescent Valley and Eureka. The mines are headquartered in Elko County, and workers are transported to the mine sites from those towns. The last table listed below along with the line graph illustrate this imbalance of jobs vs. resident labor force in Eureka County

Commuting Patterns The chart at left shows commuting patterns in Eureka County in 2000. This information is gathered in the "long form" U.S. Census questionnaire, so it cannot be updated until after the decennial 2010 U.S. Census. The table shows that the most common commute pattern in 2000 was into Eureka County from Elko County - this reflects commutes to the two large mines in northern Eureka County by workers residing in Elko County. Although overall numbers are smaller, there also are many long-distance, out-of-county or even out-of-state commutes, to and from communities as far away as San Diego, California and Montrose in western Colorado.

* On reviewing a draft of the 2003 report, reviewer Susan Fye of Crescent Valley noted that the number given in this chart of nine (9) people commuting from Eureka County to Lander County in 2000 seemed very low, given that many Crescent Valley residents commute from the town of Crescent Valley in Eureka County to work at the Cortez Mine which is located in Lander County. A 1/9/04 telephone interview with Celia Boertlein in the Migration Statistics Branch of the U.S. Census Bureau indicated the following possible reasons for this low number:

  1. The question on workplace location was Question #22 in the "long form" Census questionnaire, which was only mailed to a portion of the population. In Eureka County, the portion of the population that filled out the long form was 41.9% of the total population. Therefore, the number of nine commuters to Lander County was based upon only three or four sample cases. The recipients of the long form questionnaire were not selected based upon occupation, so those working in the mining industry could have been "undersampled" in the count.

  2. The wording of Question #22 may also have led to the low count. In the question, respondents were asked to identify the location of their workplace by street address, name of city, town, or post office, name of county, and zip code. The mailing address and the zip code of the Cortez Mine are in Crescent Valley, so if respondents did not know, or did not fill out the "name of county" box, then the zip code, post office, or town information would have placed the location of the Cortez Mine workplace in Eureka County when the questionnaire results were tabulated.

  3. Since the Cortez Mine, while located in Lander County, is close to the county boundary and has a mailing address in Eureka County, some respondents might have mistakenly placed the location of the workplace in Eureka County.


As with other economic indicators in Eureka County, per capita personal income is tied to earnings in the mining industry, but it also is influenced by other factors. The third line in the first table listed below, "Less: adjustment for residence" reflects the fact that most mining income is earned by workers residing outside of Eureka County. While net county resident earnings were high during the years 1996-1998 when mining employment was high, county income did not drop sharply when mining employment fell. It appears that other factors help to "smooth out" the fluctuations in per capita income which might be expected in the reliance on mining employment. For example, line 5 in the first table listed below shows that earnings from dividends, interest and rent increased by 110% during the 12-year period, and Line 6 shows that transfer payments (1) increased by 83% during the period. Line 3, "Less: Adjustment for Residence" shows that in periods of lower mining employment less income was leaving the county, reflecting the fact that those losing mining jobs did not live in the county.

The last table listed above shows Eureka County and Nevada per capita income: Eureka County per capita income was higher than that of the state overall through 1996, then subsequently fell below as the line graph above illustrates. Eureka County per capita income continues to rise, however, increasing by almost 6% between 2003 and 2004.

The chart to the left and the line graph listed below show median household income for Eureka County over a 30-year period, both adjusted for inflation (2006 dollars) and unadjusted. A household is defined as all people who occupy a housing unit, whether related or not, and this income measurement usually is lower than family income since households often consist of just one individual. Real, inflation-adjusted income rose to its highest point in 1998, then fell again. The bar graph listed below shows a comparison of median household income in Nevada, Eureka County, and nationwide in 1999 and 2003. Median household income in Nevada as a whole was significantly higher than in Eureka County in both years. The county's median household income is very close to that of the nation as a whole in 1999, but the county fell behind in 2003.

The second graph listed below shows median household income categories for Eureka County, and the third graph shows a comparison of different income measurements for Eureka County and Nevada as a whole, based on U.S. Census 2000 data. The last chart listed below shows that family median income in Eureka County in 2000 was closer to the Nevada median than household income. The earnings of male, full-time, year-round workers were significantly higher in Eureka County than in Nevada as a whole, reflecting the relatively high wages in the mining industry, while female, full-time workers earned less than in Nevada as a whole. U.S. Census 2000 shows the overall poverty rate for families in Eureka County at 8.9%, for individuals at 12.6%. Corresponding figures for Nevada as a whole were 7.5% for families and 10.5% for individuals.

Gold mining continues as the principal economic engine of Eureka County, as can be seen in the section below detailing sources of employment and tax revenues. Over the period 1993 - 2004 there were four producing gold mines in the county operating at different times. Barrick Gold Corporation's Betze-Post Mine (also known as the Goldstrike Mine) in northern Eureka County, and the Newmont Mining Corporation's Carlin operations, also in the northern end of the county, operated throughout the period.

The Gold Bar Mine in the Antelope mining district in southwestern Eureka County closed in 1995, while Barrick Gold Corporation's Ruby Hill Mine (acquired by Barrick in a 2001 merger with the Homestake Mining Company ) near the town of Eureka came into production in 1997. In 2002 Eureka County produced 37% of all gold produced in Nevada, and in 2004 the county produced 36% of all Nevada gold. The Cortez Joint Venture mining complex (a partnership between Barrick Gold Corporation and Kennecott Minerals Company), while not within Eureka County, is situated in Lander County close to the border with Eureka County, and many Cortez employees reside in Crescent Valley.

The two mine complexes in northern Eureka County continue to be some of the most productive mines in Nevada and indeed in the entire country, with Newmont Mining Corporation's 's Carlin Trend mines producing over 1.13 million ounces of gold in 2004, and Barrick Gold Corporation's Betze-Post Mine produced over 1.4 million ounces in that year.

During the late 1990's lower gold prices caused many Nevada mines to scale back exploration and to scale back or temporarily close some operations. Since then the price of gold has again risen, to over $300 per ounce in 2002 and over $600 per ounce in 2006.

As a result of these higher gold prices, several Nevada gold mining operations are expanding both operations and exploration. Newmont is developing the Leeville underground mine near the existing Deep Post Mine in northern Eureka County. According to the company's website, the Leeville Mine began production in the second half of 2005, and is scheduled to reach design production level in 2007.

At full production rates, Leeville is expected to produce up to 550,000 ounces of gold per year, with a current mine life in excess of eight years. Newmont is also expanding the Gold Quarry Mine with a project called Gold Quarry South Layback. The current plan for this site includes a minimum six-year mine life. Overall, Newmont reports 33.3 million ounces of reserves in the company's Nevada Operations. Barrick Gold Corporation describes the Goldstrike Property in northern Eureka County as its "flagship property"' reporting gold reserves at year-end 2005 of over 17 million ounces. The mine is the company's largest producer. Barrick is conducting further exploration in the vicinity of the existing mine, and reports on the company website that it is "confident that the Goldstrike Property will continue to yield new discoveries in the future." Ruby Hill Mine - Click to Enlarge View

Barrick is developing the East Archimedes Mine at the old Ruby Hill Mine site near Eureka. The company website reports that "the project will be an open-pit, heap leach operation exploiting the East Archimedes deposit, a deeper continuation of the ore mined previously at Ruby Hill. Permitting has been secured and the two-year, approximately $75-million construction phase is underway. The project is expected to enter production in mid-2007 and has reserves of 1.0 million ounces at December 31, 2005."

Barrick also is a partner with Kennecott Minerals in the Cortez Joint Venture in Lander County close to Crescent Valley. This operation is described on the company website: "The Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits are being mined by conventional open-pit methods in nine stages. The first three stages of mining occurred in the Pipeline deposit over a period of ten years (1996 - 2005) and then mining of Pipeline/South Pipeline stages four through nine plus South GAP and Crossroads are scheduled to continue through 2018. All requisite permits for the development of the entire Pipeline/South Pipeline deposit have been issued."

Overall, it appears that with high and rising gold prices, gold production and exploration in Eureka County will continue to be important over at least the next ten to twenty years. Producers report increased costs, however, mostly due to energy costs. To address these rising costs, Newmont's Nevada operations propose to build a 203- megawatt coal-fired power plant near the Carlin Trend. The company plans to sell excess capacity from the plant to local utility Sierra Pacific Power.

Net Proceeds Recover From 2002 Low
The net proceeds of minerals tax is annually determined by the Nevada Department of Taxation based on the actual production of minerals from all operating mines, oil and gas wells, as well as geothermal operations in Nevada. Mine operators are required to file a statement showing the gross yield and claimed net proceeds from each geographically separate operation. The Department of Taxation determines the net proceeds of minerals tax due based on the information filed by the taxpayer, as well as from all obtainable data, evidence and reports available. The net proceeds are determined by subtracting from the gross yield certain deductions for costs incurred during the calendar year immediately preceding the reporting year. Costs that can be deducted are determined by state law. The tax rate applied to the net proceeds is based on a sliding scale between 2% and 5%, depending on the ratio of net proceeds to gross proceeds. The local portion of the overall tax liability is based on the local rate where the mine is located, and the balance is the state portion of the tax.

While net proceeds from gold and silver mining operations in Eureka County in 2002 were $76 million, resulting in county tax due of $1.3 million, this was down substantially from net proceeds in 1997 of $263 million, with county tax due of $4.67 million. A large part of this decline was due to the fact that Barrick reported no net proceeds in 2001 and 2002 on the Betze-Post (Goldstrike) Mine, resulting in no net proceeds of minerals tax liability to the county (although property taxes on the real property and improvements of the mine operation were collected in that year, as well as sales tax on commodities sold).

Net proceeds in Eureka County rose from $76 million to $207.3 million from 2002 to 2003, resulting in a 172% increase in the amount of county tax due.

Oil Production
According to the Nevada Division of Minerals, Nevada's net oil production in 2004 was 462,109 barrels (0.023% of total U.S. production) from 67 actively producing wells in 10 fields in Railroad Valley (Nye County, 86.9%) and three fields in Pine Valley (Eureka County, 13.1%), the same as in 2003. Nevada ranked 28 out of the 31 oil producing states in the country in 2004. The average net wellhead price for Nevada crude oil decreased 24.5% to $17.13 per barrel in 2001, and the sales volume decreased 30.6%to $9,781,230.

Eureka County's Blackburn Field was Nevada's second highest volume producer for the third year in a row in 2004, averaging 68 barrels of oil and 1,173 barrels of water per day. The Nevada office of the BLM held four oil and gas lease sales in northern Nevada in 2004. The highest bids were for leases in Nye and White Pine Counties. According to the Nevada Bureau of Mines, discovery of oil in the "Wolverine" area of western Utah coupled with the high price of oil has sparked renewed interest in oil exploration in eastern Nevada and western Utah. One of the larger projects is Eden Energy Corporation's Noah Project. In 2004, Eden Energy of Vancouver, British Columbia, acquired a Participation Agreement with Nevada-based Cedar Strat and also acquired about 211,000 acres in leases covering the Diamond Mountains along the border between Eureka and White Pine Counties.

Geothermal Energy
With a combination of extensive geothermal resources, producing geothermal power plants, an ambitious state renewable portfolio standard (20% of electricity from renewable resources by 2015) and federal production tax credits, Nevada is one of the most attractive states in the country for geothermal power exploration and production.

Eureka County contains numerous warm and hot springs which may be potential geothermal resources. A 2000 map prepared by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Nevada Geothermal Resources, shows over 40 hot or warm springs or wells in Eureka County. Beowawe Power LLC operates a 16.6 megawatt geothermal power plant at Beowawe. The plant is situated on the Lander/Eureka County line. While a part of the facility is in Eureka County, the main building is in Lander County, and the company holds a business license in Lander County. The company continues to explore the potential of expanding the plant, and received a test drilling permit in 2005 from the Nevada Division of Minerals.

Idaho General Mines, Inc. has commenced (October, 2006) the permitting process to develop a molybdenum mine at Mount Hope in Eureka County. The Mount Hope project is located near State Route 278 south of Garden Pass. Permitting is expected to take approximately two years following the submittal of a Plan of Operation to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (USBLM). Mine construction is expected to take approximately two additional years with initial production targeted for 2009. The mine is projected to have a 53-year life and produce approximately 1.3 billion pounds of molybdenum. Approximately 500 people are expected to be employed during the construction phase, then approximately 300 people will be employed during the production phase.

As the table link belwo shows, principal agricultural commodities produced in Eureka County are cattle and hay. There were 73 farms or ranches in the county in 2002, producing about $12.7 million in agricultural products This is a drop in the number of farms/ranches from 85 in 1987. The average per farm/ranch market value of agricultural products sold in 2002 was $173,412.

The average estimated value of farm/ranch land, buildings and equipment per farm/ranch in 2002 was $967,886.There were 73 farm operators in the county, down from 85 in 1987. Only 58 of them reported farming as their principal occupation, and 26 of them worked at least some days off the farm/ranch.

The Eureka County Economy
Eureka County, Nevada
Socioeconomic Conditions and Trends Update
October, 2006

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