Nevada State Metal


Nevada State Metal - Silver


Adopted in 1977.

Silver was adopted in 1977 as Nevada's state metal.

The state metal is silver. Nevada has many minerals but silver was one of the most important in our early mining days, thousands of silver mines scatter the land of Nevada

Nevada State Metal: Silver

Silver there formed strictly on the surface. Over millions of years of desert conditions, silver sulfide minerals weathered out of their volcanic host rocks and slowly turned, under the influence of rainwater, to silver chloride. The climate of Nevada concentrated this silver ore in supergene enrichments. These heavy gray crusts were often polished by dust and wind to the dull luster of a cow horn- horn silver. You could shovel it right off the ground, but once it was gone, there was nothing left beneath for the hard-rock miner.

Silver is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Ag (from the traditional abbreviation from the Latin Argentum) and atomic number 47. A soft white lustrous transition metal, silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal and occurs in minerals and in free form. This metal is used in used in jewelry, tableware, coins, scientific equipment and in photographic processes. Silver tarnishes black with a surface layer of Acanthite, especially when placed in proximity to sulphorous compounds. It is primarily found as a constituent of hydrothermal veins. It is often found associated with copper. Unlike Gold it is soluble in any oxydizing mineral acid.


The early history of Nevada is, to a great extent, the history of the Comstock Lode. This vast deposit of silver in the vicinity of Virginia City, Nevada, was, in fact, responsible for Nevada's separate existence as a sovereign state. As H. H. Bancroft observed:

Nowhere else in the world do we find a society springing up? In a desert wilderness, so wholly dependent on a mountain Of metal, so ruled by the ever-changing vagaries of its Development, and which finally attained the full measure of A prosperous commonwealth.

After the exhaustion of the Comstock Lode in the 1880's, Nevada's mining industry declined precipitously, only to be revived by the discovery of precious metals in Goldfield, Rochester and Tonopah, Nevada, around the turn of the century. The Goldfield-Tonopah boom lasted until the early years of the Great Depression.

The 1930's witnessed the rapid development of important deposits of base metals, such as copper, lead and zinc. Copper was particularly important to Nevada's economy for the next several decades, providing the main economic base for communities such as Battle Mountain, Ely and Yerington, Nevada.

Although copper mining declined rapidly after 1975 and ceased entirely in 1978 in response to stringent environmental regulations and a decline in the world price of copper, Nevada has remained an important producer of other minerals. For example, the McDermitt, Nevada, mine near the Oregon border has for several years produced almost all of the Nation's mercury.

The McDermitt mine is, in fact, the only primary producer of mercury in the American hemisphere. Nevada also leads the Nation in the production of barite and magnesite; is second in the production of diatomite and lithium; and third in the production of fluorspar, molybdenum and tungsten.

However, the current mining boom is based primarily on the production of gold and silver. Over the last 5 years, Nevada's gold production has quintupled. The state now produces over half the Nation's gold and, barring some unforeseen disaster, such as a dramatic decline in price, gold production in Nevada is expected to continue to increase at least until the year 2000.


Nevada Law

The law designating the element known as silver (Ag) as the official Nevada state metal is found in the Nevada Revised Statutes, Title 19, Chapter 235, Section 235.090.


NRS 235.090 State metal. The metallic element known as silver (Ag) is hereby designated as the official state metal of the State of Nevada.

(Added to NRS by 1977, 355)

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