Nevada Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration Survey 2017/2018
by Michael W. Ressel
Series: Exploration Survey ES-2018
Version: previously issued as “Nevada Exploration Survey” by Nevada Division of Minerals; third issue of the new NBMG series “Exploration Survey”
Format: 20 pages, color
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Exploration survey 2017/2018 flyer:
The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG) carried out an online survey of companies exploring for new mineral and geothermal resources in Nevada during 2017 and 2018. The Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources and the Nevada Division of Minerals commissioned and provided partial support for the survey. The economic impact of mineral and energy production in Nevada from existing resources is well known. Indeed, Nevada ranks first in the U.S. in the value of its nonfuel minerals produced in 2017. In spite of its high minerals production, the impact of exploration activities, which focus on discovering new resources in Nevada, is poorly understood due to limited data. Exploration activities are burdened with high risk as substantial investments are not guaranteed to result in mineable resources. Indeed, only rarely do exploration programs result in successful resource extraction, and then only after many years of capital investment and development activities. Despite this, exploration success is imperative for the continued well-being and sustainability of natural resource industries in Nevada.
A goal of this survey was to gather data to better assess the impact of exploration on Nevada’s economy. The survey’s focus was to collect company data on exploration expenditures and the number of employees involved in exploration in 2017 and 2018. Expenditures were subdivided by various categories and participants were asked to rate the relative importance of external factors on their exploration programs. The survey includes data from 172 companies that actively explore for mineral and geothermal resources in the state. The dollars spent and personnel employed in exploration is a minimum, because records suggest as many as 315 companies actively explored in Nevada in recent years.
The results from this 2017–2018 survey show that Nevada’s exploration spending of $461 million in 2018 reflects a 31% increase from 2017 and a 42% increase from 2016 levels. Despite major increases in 2018, spending remained substantially lower than in the commodity boom year of 2011, when more than $674 million was spent on exploration. Results from the current survey are consistent with global exploration trends and reflect a modest increase in most commodity prices since 2016, when the last survey was undertaken. Major findings are included in this publication.