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CEO Blog - December 4, 2012
Tuesday, December 04 2012 17:22
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Silverland Vaqueros Mascot

Comstock Mining’s President and CEO, Corrado De Gasperis, was invited to present at the Silverland Middle School in Fernley, Nevada, by Assistant Vice Principal Barbara Harris to discuss some of the exciting history, innovation and potential for Nevada careers in the gold and silver mining industry.

Silverland Middle School, Fernley, NV
School Archive Photo

This beautiful new school was constructed in 2011 with 97,520 square feet to house a growing need for young learners in Lyon County.

“Completed in January, 2011, Silverland is LCSD’s newest building and the prototype for future construction projects. Green technology, such as wind and solar energy, compliment design features that allow maximum sunlight into classrooms. High-efficiency lighting, room occupancy sensors, and low-flow water fixtures help reduce the carbon footprint of the facility,” advises Principal Ryan Cross.

As over 500 local 7th and 8th graders filed into the school’s gymnasium and took their bleacher seats, they offered up their resounding ‘go time’ signal, a staccato two-clap & stomp designation that settled the Vaqueros to attention. Introduced by Patrick Whitehead, 8th grade Social Studies teacher, the assembly was reminded that about 20% of Nevada’s state economy is derived from mining and that it is likely that someone they knew or that possibly their parents, grandparents or even great grandparents had worked in some area that was connected to mining. Mr. De Gasperis then engaged the students in discussions about the physical properties of gold and silver, some surprising uses of these precious metals, and modern careers supported by the gold and silver production.  

Gold bullion is a global financial stabilizer, currently held in physical gold bars in world banks.  While some gold goes into the jewelry industry, gold has many different uses.  Gold is a highly efficient electrical conductor that can carry tiny currents and remain free of corrosion. It is used in high-end components in airplane engineering, cell phones and global positioning units.  It is extremely malleable and experts contend that a single ounce of gold can be pounded and pulled into a very thin string, up to 35-miles long or into a 300 square foot sheet. Gold is also used in environmental or ‘clean green’ chemistry to help purify, reduce and eliminate hazardous substances.  Gold is also used in cancer treatment, dental and other medical applications.  

Nevada’s historically rich Comstock Lode has produced over 8 million ounces of gold, but its biggest claim to fame has been its unique high-grade silver deposits, that historically produced almost 200 million ounces of silver in the late 1800s, financially supporting the Union in the Civil War, accelerating Nevada’s admittance into the Union as the 36th State on October 31, 1864, and accordingly nicknamed the Silver State.

Silver is also used in the Jewelry Industry but has many other industrial applications.  Silver is also one of the most conductive metals and the vast majority of silver today is used and consumed in electronics, space and aeronautical engineering and the medical industries.

The Silverland Middle School students were exceptionally attentive to the presentation and the videos on the origin of gold and the history of mining on the Comstock Lode, led by Mr. De Gasperis. They asked wide-ranging questions about all aspects of mining and The Comstock.


Photo by Julie Draksler

The photo below shows Mr. De Gasperis presenting a short video on the important contributions that engineers made to mining on the Comstock Lode in the 1880s.  Cave-ins were deadly and prolific due to the unsupported soil found in the unique geography of the Comstock Lode.

 Photo by Julie Draksler
Projected on the screen is a schematic of the most innovative solution; the honeycomb construction of German engineer and mine superintendent Philip Deidesheimer, who invented the square set timbering method. In this method, timber latticework was used to support the tunnels to prevent the cave-ins of the soft volcanic sand.  Hot springs brought water temperatures inside the mines to 120° Fahrenheit and periodically flooding shafts.  Adolf Suttro built a large drainage shaft under the northern end of the Comstock Lode that eventually helped drain off the deadly hot floodwater, released built up steam pressure and it still drains water today.  Other inventions created to support mining on the Comstock Lode include the lumber transport V-Flume, an 11-mile long water slide that extended from Spooner Summit down Clear Creek to Carson Valley.  The Virginia and Truckee Railroad hauled the wood up to the Comstock to support the mines, build homes, businesses, and firewood. Another critical invention, the modern Merrill-Crowe process that eliminated the need to use poisonous mercury for metals extraction was refined on the Comstock.  One of the earliest applications of the Merrill process, in the early 1900s, was right in Silver City at the Donovan Mill.

The Comstock Lode of the late 1800s and its quickly populated towns of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and Comstock City, were home to tens of thousands of miners and their families and supporting mercantile, train stations, and ore haulers as well as construction workers, engineers, architects, actors, writers, and artists.  

“We are really excited to have Mr. De Gasperis take time and visit our school and talk to our students,” said John Galahan, 7th grade Science Teacher.  “It is a close part of their history and a good look at a working career opportunity.”

Comstock Mining restarted gold and silver production on the Lode in August this year and reports an overall resource of over 2.3 million ounces of gold and over 24 million ounces of silver.

I greatly enjoyed presenting to the Silverland Middle School Career Day and appreciate the student and faculty interaction.  

Best Regards from The Comstock,

Corrado De Gasperis

President & CEO