There’s no doubt that gold drives northeastern Nevada’s economy. Most of us make a living either directly or indirectly on the strength of the mining industry. Often it is hard to tell which direction things are going, so we ask ourselves time and again: How long will it be before our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is empty?
This summer, Mining Quarterly editor Suzanne Featherston is taking a three-part look at that very question. Her series began two weekends ago with a study of the mining industry’s boom-and-bust past.
That was followed last weekend by an analysis of gold reserves in the state, and how long they are expected to last. And coming this weekend in part three, Featherston looks at the exploration side of mining to see who is searching for gold and where they are finding it.
Part one put the modern “gold rush” in perspective by comparing it with the California Gold Rush in 1849 and the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859. While some form of mineral extraction has been around since ancient times, those two periods in our history vastly accelerated the settlement of the West.
Gold mining quickly began to fade in the 20th century, however, after 100 million ounces or so had been wrestled from the earth. It took a dramatic change in technology in the mid 1960s to bring mining back full scale, and since then nearly 200 million more ounces have been mined – much of it along the Carlin Trend roughly 20 miles west of Elko.