Mining 101: A brief history of the industry in Nevada – by Staff (Las Vegas Sun – February 1, 2016)

Less than 1 percent of Nevada’s land houses mining operations.
But the 167,000 acres that are being mined are spread across
almost the entire state. Only Carson City and Douglas County
have no mines. There are 110 mines in the state, and 2,230
companies connected to their operations.

Modern-day mining in Nevada is a high-tech business, not a get-rich-quick dream. Operators use drones to survey, monstrous trucks to haul and T-Rex-sized power shovels to chomp into the ground. Permits and environmental applications take years to approve.

Technology has transformed the business. But the first step remains the same: Stake a claim.

Unlike the old days, mining companies no longer can simply slam a post in the ground and own what’s below the surface dirt. To make a claim, mining companies must inform federal and state agencies that minerals are believed to be underground, pay a slate of fees, then begin a government application process that can last 10 years before a shovel hits the ground. There are two types of mining claims:

• Lode claims cover veins of such mineralized rock as quartz, gold or other metallic minerals that have well-defined boundaries and broad zones. The Bureau of Land Management limits the size of a lode claim to 1,500 feet long and 600 feet wide. Lode claims tend to net the biggest payoff, as they produce year after year. Lodes can continue for many miles underground and contain yields in heavy concentrations.

• Placer claims give people rights to loose minerals, such as sand, gravel or gold that has eroded from rock and washed downstream. Many nonmetallic bedded or layered deposits, such as gypsum and high calcium limestone, also are considered placer deposits. The maximum size of a placer claim for a corporation is 20 acres. With placer claims, people can mine like prospectors — with a simple gold pan and water. Even large-scale operations can strike gold with metal detectors, sluice boxes and dredgers.

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