While most Nevada mines are located in the northeast corner of the state, the industry touches every area of Nevada, including major urban centers like Reno and Sparks. Located in Washoe County in northwest Nevada, the adjoining cities form a metropolitan area of approximately 400,000 people, second largest in the state after Las Vegas.
Mining accounted for more than $115 million in wages in Washoe County in 2012, with almost all of that generated in Reno-Sparks. The extractive industry, which includes the oil and gas sector, accounted for more than $252 million of Washoe County’s gross regional product in the same year. Nearly 800 companies in the Reno-Sparks area serve as vendors to the mining industry. Here are two of those companies.
Q&D Construction has been a fixture in Reno-Sparks for 50 years, but it only recently diversified into mining. Like many Nevada companies, Q&D sought to diversify during the deep recession that devastated the Nevada economy from 2008 to 2012. Mining was one of the few growth sectors at the time and helped sustain the business. Despite a sharp decline in commodity prices in recent years, mining still accounts for about 15–20 percent of Q&D’s overall business today, says Doug Elder, Project Manager and Estimator for Q&D. “Barrick is one of our bigger customers,” he says.
Q&D, which has about 600 employees, is currently building a de-watering pipeline at Barrick’s Goldstrike mine. Such projects have a trickle-down effect on the local economy, Elder says, noting that Q&D worked with 12 different sub-contractors on a natural gas pipeline that led to Goldstrike, many of them local companies.
“We had the X-ray guys from Reno, welders from Fallon; there’s lots of companies from Nevada that get in on the ride,” says Elder, who worked in the mining industry for 15 years before joining Q&D in 2009.
Like Barrick, Q&D gives back to the community, supporting 78 organizations such as local schools, youth organizations, museums and charitable organizations.
McClelland Laboratories (MLI) is a short drive from Q&D Construction, but the two companies are a world apart, and a good example of the breadth of businesses supported by mining. While Q&D builds mine infrastructure, MLI provides metallurgical testing services.
Founded in 1986, MLI works with numerous Nevada mine operators, but more than half of its business today comes from outside the U.S., including some of Barrick’s global operations.
“We bring revenue in from abroad and that money is spent here in Nevada,” says Jack McPartland, Vice President of Operations. “At the end of the day, though, we’re headquartered here in Sparks because of the Nevada mining industry.”
At that, Gene McClelland, Founder and President, and a quick wit with a wry sense of humor, chimes in, “No, Jack, we located here because I lived here.”
McPartland, who has worked for McClelland for 27 years, doesn’t miss a beat. “Yes, Gene, but you might not have stayed in Nevada if it weren’t for mining.”
McClelland ponders that for a moment, shrugs and says, “Good point.”
MLI has 54 full-time employees who work in the company’s 50,000-square-foot head office in Sparks, Nevada. The company has weathered the good times, when it employed as many as 100 people, and the bad.
“We’re here for the long haul and that’s what Nevada needs, businesses that don’t just close their doors when times are tough,” says Julie Straw, Vice President of Administration and Finance.