Mining was long the most important industry, and the state was world-famous for its rich gold and silver output. During the early 2000s Nevada ranked first among the states in the production of gold and was surpassed only by Alaska in the production of silver. Nevada also led the nation in the production of the mineral barite and the metal lithium. It ranked second among the states, behind Arizona, in the value of its nonfuel mineral production. In 1859 the Comstock Lode was discovered at a site near Virginia City. This vein of ore, which yielded both gold and silver, gave its name to the booming Comstock Era of the next 20 years.
The mineral wealth of this area was vast enough to lead to Nevada’s admission to the Union as a state in 1864, despite its small population. So sizable was the Comstock boom that the Lake Tahoe basin was virtually stripped of trees, which went to make mine support timbers, charcoal, and houses. Production from the Comstock Lode declined in the latter part of the l9th century, because of falling silver prices and the exhaustion of the finest-grade ore. But deposits of silver, lead, and zinc had been found elsewhere by that time, and discoveries continued after 1900.
In the late 1970s, deposits of disseminated, microscopically fine gold were discovered in a geological formation known as the Carlin Trend, near Elko.
The Carlin Trend is the largest source of gold found in the United States since California’s Gold Rush of the late 1840s. New separation techniques and the rising price of gold made mining these deposits economically worthwhile. Six Nevada counties are involved in the production of gold from these deposits. For most of the 20th century copper was the most important mineral in Nevada’s economy, accounting for as much as one-third of total national output. However, falling copper prices forced several large mines to close in the late 1970s. Other minerals extracted in Nevada include gypsum, magnesite, mercury, molybdenum, and tungsten. Nevada also produces clays, lime, sand and gravel, salt, stone, and semiprecious gemstones. "Nevada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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