Of the 66 named mining districts in Elko County, 56 have been productive of one or more of 19 different commodities: 11 metals--copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, mercury, tungsten, manganese, iron, uranium, and antimony; 8 nonmetals--sand and gravel, stone, barite, diatomite, gems, oil shale, volcanic ash, and clay. In addition to the commodities produced, at least 5 others--beryllium, molybdenum, tin, phosphorite, and petroleum, occur in amounts sufficient to warrant exploration. The other districts have been explored, but no production has been recorded.
Total value-when-sold of production recorded through 1969 was nearly $91 million; actual production was considerably greater, especially if sand and gravel, barite, and other nonmetallic products before 1953 are included. In value of metals produced, the five highest districts are Mountain City ($26 million), Tuscarora ($11 million), Jarbidge ($10 million), Aura ($6 million), and Railroad (nearly $5 million). The Rio Tinto copper mine in the Mountain City district yielded $21 million. Of the 17 districts that produced nonmetallic minerals, Bootstrap .is the largest producer, containing the Rossi mine, one of the two largest barite mines in the United States.
Most of /he metals produced name from veins and replacement deposits in limestone or dolomite near granitic stocks; exceptions are manganese and mercury, which are not associated with known or inferred stocks; mercury is further excepted because it occurs in volcanic rocks, as do a few deposits of the major metals. The largest deposit--the Rio Tinto lode--was a combination of fissure filling and replacement along a bedding plane shear zone 150 ft wide and 1,200 ft long in carbonaceous shale of the Valmy Formation; this deposit is apparently older than the Mountain City stock and its mineralization may be related to Paleozoic mafic volcanism later than a major thrust fault, inferred to underlie the area at a depth of about 5,000 ft.
Most of the nonmetallic minerals mined were sedimentary bedded deposits, but mica was mined from pegmatite deposits, and turquoise from both placer and hydrothermal deposits.
The largest known reserves of metals (1973) are of porphyry copper in the Dolly Varden district and gold in the Bootstrap district. Reserves of barite also are presumed to be large.
The greatest potential for future production of metals, notably copper and gold, appears to be in the known districts or extensions of them and peripheral to deposits that are related to known or concealed plutons and thrust faults. Potential resources in deposits too low in grade to be worked profitably at the present time include all commodities that have been produced and, in addition, known, deposits of beryllium, molybdenum, tin, and phosphorite. Speculative resources in undiscovered deposits may reasonably be predicted to include all known commodities as well as others that are unsuspected. Petroleum may yet be produced from the Elko Formation and geothermal energy from the Ruby Valley and Elko areas.