Nevada voters will decide next year if the Nevada State Constitution’s limit on hardrock mining taxation should be removed. On a party-line vote with all Republicans opposed, the Nevada Assembly voted 26-15 to approve Senate joint Resolution 15. It passed the Senate 17-4 in April and does not require the governor’s signature to be placed on the election ballot.
“Just this one bill has the power to close many of the small ore mines around Nevada and can adversely change the way mining is done forever,” he observed.
Assemblyman James Wheeler, R-Gardnerville observed that passage of SJR 15 will generate instability in the market place and not create one job in Nevada. “It will not encourage any businesses to come here. It will not reduce one class size in Clark County.”
Proponents of SJR15 have argued for years that Nevada’s mining industry is not paying its fair share.
Voters will be asked to repeal what Nevada voters enacted in 1989, when they approved an amendment that does not permit the net proceeds tax on minerals to exceed 5 percent.
Kevin Powers, an attorney for the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said once the constitutional limitations are removed by SJR15, it is up to the Nevada Legislation to determine how to tax minerals and mining claims. That policy decision will have to be made by Nevada Legislature.
In March, the Las Vegas Review Journal noted, “Most Senate Republicans have already pledged to increase mining taxes significantly in 2015 and use the extra revenue, estimated at $600 million to $800 million for public education.”
If the Nevada Mining Association or individual über-gold mining companies Barrick or Newmont decide to sue to prevent the removal of the constitutional tax caps on mining, it is believed they will have to wait until the outcome of the election.
Ironically, for years the World Bank and other international organizations have considered Nevada mining taxation to be a role model for other nations due to its stability, fairness, and case precedents.