February 19, 2013

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Article

Buried Treasure

Underground Activity Brings Billions to the State

Marie Mischel

February 19, 2013

“I think the mining industry set a poor reputation for itself many, many years ago in terms of environmental issues. They’ve progressed tenfold in the past 30 or 40 years, but I think part of the problem is that most people aren’t aware of how much mining has progressed in technology and so on,” Nadon says. “There are no environmental issues with the mines that operate in Utah now, nor with any new ones that would operate, but the legacy from the old days seems to be carrying forward and restricting opportunities to develop new mines and provide a lot more employment.”

Nadon believes many ore bodies in have yet to be identified and developed, but the environmental permitting is constrictive. “It’s very, very difficult to develop a new underground ore body because of so many government restrictions,” he says.

To apply for a small mine permit, which is 10 acres or less in an unincorporated part of the county or five acres in the incorporated part, “the permitting process is rather quick, a couple of months,” Dean says. “If it’s a large mine, depending on how technical it is, it can take six months to two years.”

Nevertheless, the Beehive State offers equipment suppliers and materials to develop mines, Nadon says. “There are a lot of companies in the Salt Lake City
area that provide services and support to mines in Nevada and Idaho and Arizona,
so Utah has a lot of good resources and people that do mining work, but unfortunately there are only so many mines that are operating, and there could be more. There is talent and the resources—both human resources and the services companies and mining companies with the willingness to invest.” 

  • Utah’s nonfuel and solid state mineral production was valued at $5.2 billion in 2011.
  • Utah ranked  No. 4 nationally in 2011 for the value of nonfuel mineral production.
  • Utah remains the only state in the nation to produce magnesium metal, beryllium concentrate and gilsonite.
  • In 2011, the state approved two new large mine permit applications and eight new small mine permits, in addition to 26 notices of intent for mineral exploration on public lands.

Utah Mining Industry Segments, 2011 Nonfuel Minerals and Solid  State Energy Minerals Produced in Utah

Base Metals - $2.6 billion (50%):

  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Beryllium
  • Vanadium

Industrial Minerals - $1.2 billion (23%):

  • Salt
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Potash
  • Building Stone
  • Sand and Gravel
  • Lime and limestone
  • Cement
  • Phosphate
  • Gilsonite
  • Bentonite
  • Gypsum

Precious Metals - $720 million (14%):

  • Gold
  • Silver

Energy Minerals - $690 million (13%):

  • Coal
  • Uranium

Source:  2012 Economic Report to the Governor; Division of Oil, Gas and Mining

 

 

 

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