Q&A with Nevada Mining Association President Amanda Hilton

Amanda Hilton was named president of the statewide Nevada Mining Association in October.

Amanda Hilton was named president of the statewide Nevada Mining Association in October. Courtesy

Amanda Hilton’s career journey from mine site accountant to general manager of the Robinson copper mine west of Ely to president of the statewide Nevada Mining Association is a story of perseverance and ability that’s more than two decades in the making.

Hilton, a fourth-generation Nevadan, last week sat down for a question-and-answer session with NNBW about her unique career arc and her vision for the NVMA in 2024 and beyond.

Amanda Hilton


NNBW: Tell us about your previous roles in the mining industry.

Hilton: I started my career in mining nearly 20 years ago as an accountant at the Robinson mine. I weaved my way through different career opportunities and ultimately became the general manager, a role I held for six years. Robinson is the largest private employer in White Pine County and the largest operating copper mine in the state of Nevada.

NNBW: How did your role as general manager help you transition to your current position as president of the NVMA.

Hilton: Over the course of my career at Robinson, I went from having a very focused area that I was responsible for (finance) to having a global view of the mine site and solving problems that weren’t necessarily in my area of expertise. Being a general manager also allowed me to network with GMs and mine site leaders across the state – I was the general manager during COVID, and during that time, general managers from across the state had conference calls once or twice a week every week to share what we were doing at our mine sites and learn how we could help each other. It really brought our industry together because we all wanted our industry to succeed through that very challenging time. I was able to make strong connections and friendships with other general managers and learn about issues facing other mine sites and the mining industry across the state. That’s what really gave me the bug to take this step – instead of advocating for 600 miners at Robinson, I now get to advocate for 30,000 people. It’s an opportunity to take what I was doing at Robinson to a whole new level.

NNBW: Can you share your vision and key priorities for the Nevada Mining Association for 2024?

Hilton: I designated my first 100 days as a listening tour, and I have already criss-crossed the entire state. I have been to so many counties, cities and towns talking to members and stakeholders to get their feedback about what they are looking for from the Nevada Mining Association. I am tying together those common threads of what stakeholders are expecting and what issues they want the NVMA to focus on. After this listening tour is over, I will set key priorities for the rest of the year, and by the end of the year we also will update the association’s strategic plan. But I first need to make sure I have those meaningful conversations with the association’s stakeholders and members.

NNBW: Are there specific initiatives and projects the NVMA intends to pursue?

Hilton: There are still many more important conversations to have, but there are some common themes. Developing the workforce of tomorrow, and what we are doing as an industry to ensure we are bringing in people with the right skills, is one of the industry's most important issues. The mining industry is changing significantly with the adoption of technology and artificial intelligence. We need to make sure the industry has people with the right scientific backgrounds. We also need mechanical engineers, electricians, diesel mechanics and equipment operators. We need to ensure that the pipeline of those workers is big enough to meet the needs of mine site operators both today and in the future. The association will be developing programs where we can reach out to urban areas and share all the great career opportunities that are available, and we also are creating pathways for people to get to those mine sites and fill those critical jobs.

NNBW: Discuss the importance of being a female leader in the mining industry.

Hilton: It’s not typical that a mine site general manager is female, or that they come from a finance background. When I first elevated into that role, a lot of people made a big deal about my gender, and I really hated it. I wanted to be defined by hard work, grit, and my ability to creatively solve problems. But there were a few experiences that helped illuminate the unique opportunity I had.

Robinson was giving away bicycles at David E. Norman Elementary School in Ely to kids who had perfect attendance. When I went to present those bikes, I had two fourth-grade girls chasing me around the gym with an iPad because they wanted to take pictures with me. It was the first time I ever experienced paparazzi. They were looking up to me as a female leader, and that’s when I realized I needed to take advantage of this opportunity and work very purposely to be a role model and mentor for females. Those students saw that gender didn’t matter, and that everyone has an opportunity to become a leader.

Another experience was when I was at a senior achievement presentation at White Pine High School. One student said her goal was to be Amanda Hilton, and she is now an engineering student at University of Nevada, Reno.

NNBW: If your Nevada experience is Reno, Sparks, Las Vegas or Carson City, it’s hard to realize the impact mining has on the state. Talk about how mining is a bit of a “sleeper” industry for people living in the state’s major population centers.

Hilton: Communicating the scope of the work the mining industry is doing is critical for the Nevada Mining Association. That includes all different age groups. The NVMA puts on annual teacher workshops in both Southern and Northern Nevada in April over spring break. The workshop in Southern Nevada is sold out and has a waiting list, which thrills me because once we help those teachers get a better understanding of the mining industry, they are going to become our ambassadors. They will be able to talk about mining in their classrooms. We are looking for the Northern Nevada workshop to sell out as well.

As an industry and association, we need to do a better job of communicating the importance of the work we are doing in all areas, not just the rural parts of the state. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity to tell the story of how mining affects the state’s economy.

NNBW: What’s your favorite mining story or anecdote?

Hilton: As a part of my development to becoming general manager of the Robinson mine, the leaders of my company had me work in all different areas of the mine site. I had to lead the truck shop and our fleet of mobile maintenance mechanics. I was scared to death – I didn’t even have the right vocabulary to talk about the amazing work that they do. However, they all embraced me as a leader and showed genuine care and concern for me. We created a great relationship where I was able to help them by removing barriers and obstacles, and they were able to educate me on the things that I needed to know because they were the true experts in the field. That time I spent in the truck shop was absolutely meaningful. The people who work there showed the soul and character of miners across the state of Nevada. It really helped me focus on why it is so important to fight for our industry. The minerals we are producing are critical to our state and our country, and the men and women who are employed by the mining industry are simply fantastic people.


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