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Nevada Mining History

Historic mining imageMining has been integral to Nevada’s history, from Native American use of its mineral wealth to fashion arrowheads, spear points, and tools to today’s modern industrial mining operations. Nevada’s silver deposits were the key to statehood; a driving force in the state’s economy in the mid-nineteenth century, they were a major reason for Nevada’s admission into the United States in 1864. While gaming and tourism now dominate the state’s economy, Nevada remains a nationally and internationally significant source of metals and minerals.

Timeline of Mining Activities


Native Americans mine deposits of history: obsidian, agate, jasper, and quartz to fashion arrowheads, spear points, and various cutting and scraping tools.


The '49ers discover gold on 1880s their way to the California gold fields. Comstock Lode silver ore deposit is found in Virginia City.


The first mining renaissance begins. 1920s: More silver and gold is discovered in Tonopah and Goldfield. Copper mining begins near Ely.


World wars and industrial expansion revive significant demand for base metals. In 1962, the Carlin Trend gold deposit is discovered, sparking a resurgence in precious metals mining.


Current mining boom begins.

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