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April 14, 2017

In 2016, these five states led the pack in mineral production, accounting for about one third of the total mineral production value for the entire country.

Image shows a map of U.S. states colored based on the value of their mineral industry
The value of the nonfuel mineral industry in each of the 50 states for 2016. (Public domain.)

Every year, the USGS National Minerals Information Center releases its Mineral Commodity Summaries, a resource roundup of 90 different 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. So today, we thought we would share the top five mineral-producing states by value from 2016.

Image shows a detailed view of banded iron in rock
A banded iron formation in the Precambrian of Minnesota. Image by James St. John - Jaspilite banded iron formation (Soudan Iron-Formation, Neoarchean, ~2.69 Ga; Stuntz Bay Road outcrop, Soudan Underground State Park, Soudan, Minnesota, USA) 16, CC BY 2.0, domain.)

Number 5: Minnesota

First up is the Land of 10,000 Lakes at number five. 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.

Image shows an open mine pit
The Rio Tinto Borax Mine pit in California, a significant source of the mineral form of boron. Image by Marcin Wichary - Flickr: [1], CC BY 2.0, domain.)

Number 4: California

California ranks number 4 overall, up two places from 2015. California’s unique contribution in the minerals world is boron, for which it is the only producing state in the United States. 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.

Image shows a tall, triangular gray stone surrounded by grass and trees
Granite is an igneous rock that is frequently used as a crushed stone building material. Credit: Alex Demas, USGS (Public domain.)

Number 3: Texas

Maintaining its place as the bronze medal winner of mineral production value is the Lone Star State. The vast majority of Texas’ mineral industry goes toward the construction of buildings, such as homes and offices. As one of the states with a high population growth over the past few years, Texas has kept pace by building new accommodations for its growing number of people.

A sample of native copper. Photograph credit: USGS (Public domain.)

Number 2: Arizona

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

Image shows a sample of gold against a black background
A sample of native gold. Sample provided by Carlin Green, USGS. (Credit: Carlin Green, USGS. Public domain.)

Number 1: Nevada

And last, but certainly not least, 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.

So there are the top five states for mineral production value for 2016! Check back next year to see who ranked in the top five for 2017. It’s likely that you’ll see familiar faces...but every now and again, there will be a surprise...

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