ELKO — With displays ranging from huge trucks and cranes to protective gear for workers, this northeastern Nevada community was the place to be this week for mining industry officials, vendors and just the curious.
An estimated 8,000 visitors were on hand for the Elko Mining Expo, one of the oldest such events in the country.
Local residents were welcome at the expo, the culmination of a weeklong annual event that ended Friday.
A total of 388 vendors, offering everything from bus services for transporting workers to the construction and operation of remote housing camps, were on hand for the event.
There was a carnivallike atmosphere at the expo, with children posing for pictures in front-end loaders while mining-related officials networked and traded information. There were plenty of freebies to be had for the kids as well, from candy and nuts to crayons.
Don Newman, executive director of the Elko Convention &Visitors Authority, said every one of the city’s 2,300 hotel and motel rooms was occupied for the event.
Some participants had to stay in Wendover, just over 100 miles to the east.
“It’s a community event,” he said, standing next to the mining equipment manufacturer exhibit from the Japanese company Komatsu. “You will have a vice president of a mining company standing next to a mother with a stroller and a 5-year-old, looking for balloons and a ruler.”
Although not on display, the heavy-equipment manufacturer Liebherr had a booth with information about its dump trucks, including the largest mining truck in the world standing 24 feet tall. The trucks, which can haul 400 tons of material, cost $3 million or more. Wenda Cervantes, an Elko representative of the company, said the expo is an opportunity to display its products to potential buyers.
Daniel Wilson, project manager and sales engineer with Duchting Pumps North America, was busy polishing a multistage dewatering pump sold by the company. The pumps are used to remove groundwater from mining operations.
The expo is a great way to display the company’s products, he said.
“We can get our name out there and interact with people,” Wilson said. “It’s also a chance to see the new technology.”
Don Vetter, executive director of the Great Basin Regional Development Authority representing Lander, Eureka and White Pine counties, was at the expo to talk up the region for relocation by companies in the mining supply chain.
The companies providing services to the mining industry are a $3 billion business in Nevada, he said. The region has a quality workforce and reasonable cost for doing business, he said.
Elko resident Gretchen Ray was at the expo so her children could enjoy the sights, especially the big mining equipment on display.
A former mine worker, Ray said the expo is a great community event.
Newman, who came to Elko from Las Vegas where he worked on big events including the Consumer Electronics Show as an executive with GES Exposition Services, said Las Vegas residents should take the time to learn how important mining is to Nevada.
“They don’t look at the impact it has on jobs, benefits and wages,” he said.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.