Nevada Produces 7.3 Million Ounces Of Gold In 2003

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Nevada mines produced 7.3 million ounces of gold in 2003, a decrease of about 5 percent from the previous year, the state Division of Minerals reported.

But the agency said the calculated value of that gold rose from $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion because of an increase in the average price.

Gold averaged $363 per ounce last year, up from $310 in 2002.

Nevada remains the nation's top gold producer and is third in the world behind South Africa and Australia.

Nevada also led the nation in silver production in 2003 with 10.2 million ounces, down 24 percent from the previous year.

Based on an average silver price of $4.88 per ounce, the calculated value of Nevada's silver production was $50 million, down $12 million from the previous year, the Ely Times reported.

"Although precious metal production declined in 2003, Nevada's mining companies continue to make a substantial contribution to the state's economy," said Alan Coyner, division administrator. "Exploration activity remained strong in 2003, which should lead to additional discoveries and production in the future."

Nevada's total value of all mined commodities - including industrial minerals such as barite, clays, dolomite, gypsum and other minerals - was about $3 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2002, the division said.