CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada mines produced a record $5.4 billion worth of gold, silver and other minerals in 2007 compared with about $4.9 billion in 2006 production value, according to a state Minerals Division report released Friday.
Besides the record value, mineral exploration picked up significantly last year, according to Alan Coyner, division administrator. He said that should lead to additional discoveries and more production in the future.
Gold mining led the way in Nevada in 2007, accounting for just over 6 million ounces of gold valued at $4.2 billion. The mines produced 6.3 million ounces in 2006, but the overall value was up in 2007 because of higher prices.
The average price of gold was $603 per ounce in 2006 and nearly $700 last year. On Friday, gold traded in London at $854 per ounce.
While gold prices have been higher - topping a record $1,000 in mid-March - experts have said gold could soon resume its upward climb.
Gold prices have been surging since late last year as the weak dollar, record crude-oil prices and fears of a U.S. recession have enhanced its appeal as a haven for investors.
Several precious metals analysts have predicted $2,000 gold ahead as a global commodities boom pushes the price of raw materials further into record territory.
Nevada is the nation's top gold-producing state, accounting for more than three-quarters of gold production. Nevada accounted for 8 percent of the total world gold production, behind China, South Africa and Australia.
Copper production in the state during 2007 was 142.8 million pounds, with a calculated value of $461 million, based on an average price of $3.23 per pound. Silver production fell slightly to 8.4 million ounces from the 2006 production level of 8.5 million ounces, but the value of production rose to $113 million from $98 million in 2006 based on an average silver price in 2007 of $13.38 per ounce.
Industrial mineral production increased slightly in 2007. The total value of Nevada's industrial minerals, which include aggregates, barite, clays, diatomite, dolomite, gypsum, lime and limestone, lithium compounds, magnesium compounds, mercury, molybdenite, opals, perlite, salt, silica sand, and turquoise, was about $610 million, up from about $592 million in 2006.
"This increase in the value of all mined commodities indicates Nevada's mining companies continue to make a significant and growing contribution to the state's economy," Gov. Jim Gibbons stated.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)