Few people will be lucky enough to experience a mine tour – which makes me a very lucky girl!  In effort to learn more about mining, and scout out locations to shoot a television commercial for our new client, The Nevada Mining Association, Barrick Gold Corporation hosted our team at their gold mine, Cortez Hills, located south of Elko, NV.  The best way to describe what it’s like to go down into an underground mine is like being on the Indiana Jones ride at Disney Land – but this experience is the real deal!

After arriving in Elko via a private jet, our tour guides from Barrick/Cortez Hills drove us out to the site, and then suited us up in all the safety equipment needed in preparation for the descend: knee-high boots, belt with emergency air masks, reflector vest, hard hats with head lights, and safety glasses.  After that process we tromped out (at about what felt like 20 lbs heavier due to all the safety gear) to the huge vehicles which would take us down into the mine.  As soon as we entered the mine I was blasted by air/dirt being forced out of the mine, as the result of the amount of air that is being pumped into the tunnels below us (Pete, our driver, said they don’t get to take snack breaks very often – so they get to snack on dirt all day long! ?).  As we descended it became completely dark, with the only light coming from our hardhats and vehicles. 

We bounced along and stopped at a number of different points where our tour guides explained the process and showed us miners at work in various points of the mining process – water trucks spray the tunnels to decrease the amount of dirt in the air; huge drilling machines drill holes into an 8’ wall of earth which are later filled in with explosives to blast out the earth; “Haulers” move the earth out to be “leached” for the gold it holds – and the process is repeated over and over until the majority of the resources a site holds has been mined. 

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Did you know – miners (men AND woman alike!) are “below” for the entire duration of their 12 hour shifts, and typically work alone!  It’s hard work and I have a whole new respect for the tight community of miners that make mining possible. Mining has come a long way from picks and axes – engineers, geologists, 3-D computer models, labs, control rooms, machine operators, and massive equipment/trucks now make the process very technical.  The ability to mine resources from the earth and then reclaim the land has evolved into a much cleaner, safer, and eco-conscious industry! 

And did you know the natural resources mined in the state of Nevada are used to manufacture every-day products we all use: cell phones, computers, medical equipment, sensors in air bags and smoke detectors.  And there are more than 50 active mines in the state of Nevada, employing more than 50,000 residents in the industry, which makes mining a significant industry making a positive impact on the economy of Nevada.

I learned so much about mining during my once-in-a-lifetime hands-on experience at the Cortez Hills gold mine.  Just another day on the job here at KDC.  ?