Bill Brown
Channel 2 News

There is no doubt mining has a huge impact on Nevada.

The numbers seem staggering.

According to the Nevada Mining Industry, in 2009, the most recent figures on its website, Nevada mines provided 50,000 jobs. Those jobs paid an average of $78,700 (while outside of the industry it was only 43,000.)

Mining says it paid $204-million in state taxes that year, but it also took $5.8 billion in minerals out of the earth - of which $5.1-billion was gold and silver.

The amount of money being made by major companies like Newmont and Barrick seems huge. And the debate is hot and heavy at the Legislature on how to squeeze more money out of mining to help with the state's massive deficit.

Mining is protected by the state's constitution and changing that is a long involved process. But mining executives say they aren't opposed to paying more. However, they don't want to do it alone. "We have always worked with the Legislature, and we will continue to do that. We just want to make sure that it's equitable for all businesses in Nevada. We're always fairly supportive of anything the Legislature and it looks at right now they've been talking about auditing. We're very happy to have the auditors come out. As far as taxation - the mining industry supports it as long as it's a broad based tax."

And in the towns dotted across eastern Nevada mining is the one industry that has kept them afloat. As this country has pulled through the worst recession in more than 80-years miners make big money and they spend it at home.

The mines also pump bucks into the towns themselves. "They're good at supporting activities especially with the youth and things are going on with them. They're there to support."

By the way, did you know the huge conglomerates actually depend on prospectors who do it the old fashioned way?

A look at the town of Cherry Creek and what it takes to strike it rich tomorrow night as 'Post Cards' continues.