Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 | 6:15 p.m.
Nevada's mining deposits attracted Barrick Gold Corp. to the state years ago.
But a modern resource — technology — made Southern Nevada stand out to the company as it searched for a home for its global IT operations and corporate affairs hub.
The company, which sources nearly half of its output from five Nevada mines, established its first physical presence in the southern half of the state Friday when it opened its new technology facility in Henderson.
A key factor in the site selection was a tour of Switch, the Las Vegas data firm that runs one of the world’s top-rated data facilities. “The tour was a transformational moment for our IT team,” said Michael Brown, Barrick’s executive director for the United States, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The presence of Switch has prompted several companies to establish a presence in the Las Vegas Valley. Most recently, the app-based video game company Machine Zone announced it was setting up an office here. At the Barrick opening on Friday, Henderson Mayor Pro Tem Debra March said she hoped the company's move would prompt others to look to the city as a tech hub.
“Diversification of our economy is essential for the sustained growth of our community,” she said. “High-tech jobs in the field of information technology, such as those here at Barrick Gold, position the city of Henderson as a leader in technology.”
In an interview after the ribbon-cutting, Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky said the desire to seek advanced technology might have struck some as odd. When most people think of mining, he said, they associate it with processes dating back centuries. “It's not perceived as being front-edge when it comes to technology,” he said.
But Barrick executives emphasized that their mining, because gold is often found 1,500 feet underground and is nearly microscopic, involves a great deal of technical precision. And with a flurry of activity at Switch, Dushnisky said he hoped the new location would help spur innovation.
“You get a sense that things will germinate from here that may not elsewhere,” he said.
With operations that span five continents, Toronto-based Barrick is the largest gold mining company in the world. The Henderson office will begin operations with more than 30 employees, primarily comprising its technology department. But Barrick executives say they have plans to expand to a staff to about 90 and possibly rent more space.
In addition to its accessibility to Switch, the Barrick executives said the Henderson location was advantageous for its proximity to McCarran International Airport. “It’s really a global office,” Dushnisky said, predicting that Barrick would use it as a hub for receiving corporate visitors and dispatching employees to its mines, which span from Australia to Peru.
The new office is expected to house the company’s global finance team and global supply team.
Dushnisky said the office opened with encouragement from Gov. Brian Sandoval, who, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, applauded the company for a commitment to economic development, responsible stewardship of Nevada land and community outreach throughout the state. “This is the new Nevada I talk about all the time,” Sandoval said.
Barrick, founded in 1987, employs 4,000 people in Nevada and is the state’s largest mining company. In addition to the gold mines that the company operates in northern Nevada, it also has a power plant and solar energy facility near Sparks. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid applauded the firm's decision to expand in the south.
“For more than three decades, Barrick Gold Corp. has played a key role in Nevada’s economy, providing good-paying jobs from their operations in Northern Nevada,” Reid said in a statement. “I’m happy to see them expand to Southern Nevada and create even more jobs in the Silver State.”