Located in Nye County, Nevada, the Round Mountain Gold Mine is one of the more celebrated gold discoveries in the US. The Round Mountain Gold Mine is one of the largest commercial mines in the world, and has production that has resulted in well over 10 million troy ounces of gold being produced from the region.
In 1906, gold was discovered in the Round Mountain area, a location approximately 55 miles north of the town of Tonopah, Nevada. The discovery led to a number of prospects in the area, and mining companies began putting much attention into the harsh, rugged, mineral rich terrain of this section of Nevada.
For the next 60 years, the main type of mining that was done was the standard lode mining method of using underground tunnels to follow the rich gold veins that are scattered throughout the area. While effective at reaching a considerable amount of gold, they were often dangerous, with potential cave-ins and other dangers which put the miners’ lives at risk.
By 1969, the underground systems being used to mine the gold had reached much of their limits. There was still plenty of gold to be found in the area, but high operating costs had an impact on production.
When a commercial mining venture took over the Round Mountain area in 1977, the area was converted into an open pit rather than continuing with the tunneling. The result has been the extraction of far more gold from the area while reducing the dangers to the workers considerable. An open pit means no supporting structures and no potential cave-ins, although there are still the typical dangers of working around heavy machinery. Today, hundreds of workers are employed at the mine.
The open pit mining uses several methods to reach the gold, including crushed ore leeching, milling of higher grade ore, gravity concentration circuit and run-of-mine ore leeching. The combination of methods plus the efficiency of the open pit system has led to far greater gold mining production. While the open pit is certainly a mark on the landscape, the benefits of this method along with the precautions taken by the commercial mining operation have limited the impact of this particular form of mining.
In 2010, an expansion of the mine was approved by the Bureau of Land Management to increase the width and depth of the mine. This expansion includes the nearby Gold Hill which is another open pit mining area. With new road construction and environmental concerns being addressed, the function of the gold mining operation is now complete. Ore that is taken from Gold Hill is now processed at Round Mountain, including the pouring of the gold bars as well.
Today, the Round Mountain Gold mine is an open pit that is currently being mined by Barrick Gold and Kinross Gold with Kinross as the main operator as it owns a full 50% of the mine thanks to a merger with Echo Bay Mines with Barrick Gold holding the other 50%.
The Round Mountain Gold Mine is also known for producing some exceptional crystalline gold specimens. These specimens are highly sought after by rare gold collectors. Unfortunately, with the high price of gold in recent years, very few of these specimens are prepared for sale to collectors; rather they are crushed sold for their gold content.