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Every year, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Minerals Information Center releases its Mineral Commodity Summaries, a resource roundup of 90 mineral commodities that includes a snapshot of the global industry, worldwide reserves and production, and information on how these minerals are used. Also included is an analysis of the domestic mineral industry of the United States, along with summaries of state mineral production.

Based on that data, following are the top five mineral-producing states by value from 2016.

#5 Minnesota

  • Mineral industry value: $3.27 billion
  • Percent of U.S. total value: 4.38
  • Principal minerals in order of value: Iron ore, sand and gravel (construction), sand and gravel (industrial), stone (crushed), stone (dimension).

Minnesota slipped a place this year, falling from fourth overall in 2015. Iron ore is the primary mineral commodity by value in Minnesota, which leads the country in iron ore production.

#4 California

  • Mineral industry value: $3.52 billion
  • Percent of U.S. total value: 4.71
  • Principal minerals in order of value: Sand and gravel (construction), cement (portland), boron minerals, stone (crushed), soda ash.

California ranks number four overall, up two places from 2015. California’s unique contribution in the minerals world is boron, for which it is the only producing U.S. state. Considering that the United States and Turkey lead the world in boron production, California’s contribution is significant. Boron’s primary use, at least domestically, is in glass and ceramics, where it helps the glass or ceramic survive intense heat. For this reason it’s used a lot in glassware for baking and laboratory use.

#3 Texas

  • Mineral industry value: $4.84 billion
  • Percent of U.S. total value: 6.48
  • Principal minerals in order of value: Stone (crushed), cement (portland), sand and gravel (construction), sand and gravel (industrial), salt.

The Lone Star State maintained its place as the bronze medal winner of mineral production value. As one of the states with a high population growth during the last few years, the vast majority of Texas’ mineral industry goes toward construction of buildings, such as homes and offices.

#2 Arizona

  • Mineral industry value: $5.56 billion
  • Percent of U.S. total value: 7.45
  • Principal minerals in order of value: Copper, sand and gravel (construction), molybdenum concentrates, cement (portland), stone (crushed).

Also holding its 2015 rank, Arizona takes the silver medal for mineral production value. Arizona leads the country in copper production and is one of the primary sources of molybdenum. In fact, Arizona’s molybdenum wealth is largely related to its copper wealth, as molybdenum is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining.

#1 Nevada

  • Mineral industry value: $7.65 billion
  • Percent of U.S. total value: 10.26
  • Principal minerals in order of value: Gold, copper, sand and gravel (construction), stone (crushed), silver.

The Silver State takes the gold medal for mineral production value in 2016, just as it did in 2015. Much of the value of Nevada’s mineral industry comes from its precious metal production, as it leads the nation in gold mining. Much of the silver comes from the same mining operation as the gold, as does some of Nevada’s copper.

A sample of native gold. Sample provided by Carlin Green, USGS. Photo: Carlin Green, USGS/Public domain


Information provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov).   

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