Most Nevadans – certainly those of us reading this newspaper – know about mining’s contributions to the state’s northern counties. For those looking to do business in this region, Elko’s perennially –popular mining expo offers plenty of opportunity to see the latest and greatest from all along the supply chain.
Hosted by the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, the Elko Expo is one of the oldest trade shows in the industry and is tremendously popular. But every four years, the Elko Mine Expo is a tasty appetizer for a much larger main course: the international mine expo (MINExpo).
MINExpo is held every four years in Las Vegas – just about the last place most people would expect to find the world’s largest mining trade show. The massive undertaking takes more than a month to set up, but lasts only three days. It spans a breathtaking 830,000 square feet of trade show floor – that’s nearly 20 acres of booths.
The National Mining Association hosts the massive event, which draws miners from all over the globe to see the newest and most innovative mining technologies. In total, 1,400 different companies will flock to the Silver State to showcase their wares. The result is a breathtaking visual; heavy equipment manufacturers will build their entire fleets on the convention room floor.
One of our industry’s biggest challenges is reaching the two million folks who live in southern Nevada, most of whom are transplants from all across the country, and telling them a compelling story about the mining industry. While the industry is big – 4% of the state’s economy and 1% of its employees – mining is dwarfed by southern Nevada’s hospitality and tourism industry. By way of comparison, there are about 12,000 miners working in Nevada – approximately the same number of employees that would work in one of the Strip’s larger casinos – and only a small percentage work in southern Nevada. We are always looking for creative ways to tell the industry’s story, but it’s easy to see why a Las Vegan might forget about the industry’s significance to Nevada.
But for three days in September, the two are one and the same. MINExpo brings 44,000 people to Las Vegas, and while the event is only 72 hours long, southern Nevada receives economic benefits to the tune of $52 million.
Nevada is an international destination for trade shows. The draw is obvious: tens of thousands of hotel rooms, hundreds of meeting rooms, and – perhaps most importantly for the mining industry – plenty of acreage to display massive equipment. This is all set against the backdrop of the most compelling state in the union: breathtaking open vistas of our high desert, world-renowned ski slopes and a national treasure that is Lake Tahoe; and an entire year’s worth of travel all jam-packed onto one Las Vegas street.
For three days every four years, that Las Vegas street becomes one of the state’s biggest mining towns. Giant trucks, power shovels, and drilling equipment join the dancing fountains and belching volcanoes to become part of the general revelry of the Las Vegas Strip. Thousands of miners in their steel toed booth and vendors in their best denim visibly remind southern Nevadans that this 21st-century, cutting-edge industry continues to be an important sector of the state’s economy and a vital component of the success of the New Nevada.
Dana Bennett is President of the Nevada Mining Association. This article originally ran in the May 20-23 edition of the Humboldt Sun Newspaper