Gold Country: A precious metal, a mining mega-corp and a captive workforce

Northern Nevada is one of the most productive and sought-after gold mining regions on the planet. In 2019, two companies merged their Nevada mines into a joint venture, Nevada Gold Mines, now one of the largest gold miners in the world. The company’s size and the absence of competition left the local community, the workforce, contractors, and Indigenous nations on whose ancestral land much of the mining takes place little recourse or power to negotiate. Last spring, reporters Nick Bowlin and Daniel Rothberg of the Nevada Independent realized they were both reporting on workforce issues at NGM, and decided to join forces, with support from the Fund to dig further into the story. They found a disaffected workforce concerned about anti-labor activity, age discrimination, and new pressure to meet higher production quotas. The reporters examined company earnings calls, court records and a large document trove from a National Labor Relations Board case against the merged corporation. They interviewed company executives, current and former employees and members of the local tribal government. Several local tribes said that the company is not meeting its stated commitments to care for cultural artifacts and provide jobs for tribal members.