New Mexico mining dates back thousands of years when Native Americans mined turquoise, copper and silver. With the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s mining expanded to include gold, lead, and other metals. Mining is still a key industry in New Mexico today with copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, uranium, potash, and coal being mined.
New Mexico mining is regulated by the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division (MMD). The MMD overseas the safety and environmental impact of mining operations, working alongside mining companies to promote responsible mining practices and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. The MMD overseas approximately 400 active mining operations in the state, ranging from small scale sand and gravel pits to large-scale copper mines. While mining plays a significant role in New Mexico’s economy, providing jobs and revenue for local communities, there are concerns about the environmental impact of mining especially in sensitive wildlife habitats. There is an ongoing debate as to how to balance the needs of the economy while protecting the states natural resources.
Copper mining leads the state in terms of production with $1.03 billion production value in 2020. New Mexico Job statistics indicate 8,700 people were employed directly in the mining industry in 2020. This is a decline from peak employment figures in 2014 when over 11,000 people were employed in New Mexico mining jobs. After Wyoming, New Mexico has the second largest Uranium reserve in the US however uranium mining in the state has declined due to markets factors and regulatory issues. Coal mining is the state has also declined with only 1 active coal mine in the state as of 2021.
New Mexico recruitment indicates the largest employment sectors are copper and potash mining. There are also New Mexico Job opportunities in industries that support mining such as engineering, construction, transportation, and logistics. Mining companies in New Mexico have faced challenges in recruiting and retaining employees, especially in the more remote areas of the state. Companies addressed this issue by improving training and development programs and promoting local hiring practices. The Covid-19 epidemic has also resulted in remote work arrangements being implemented.
As the mining industry in New Mexico evolves, New Mexico Job opportunities in the fields of data analytics and automation will emerge. There is also a growing emphasis on sustainable and environmentally responsible mining practices which will require companies to recruit professional with specialised skills in these areas.