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Wyoming Minerals


azurite and tenorite copper oreThe diversity of Wyoming’s minerals has been an anchor for the state’s economy in the past and will continue to contribute to its development. Our energy minerals (coal, uranium, and oil and gas) are known worldwide, as is our state gemstone, Wyoming Jade. However, metals and industrial minerals are also prominent in Wyoming. Modern exploration in Wyoming includes base and precious metals, gemstones, and industrial minerals.

Early discoveries and development of gold mines near South Pass in the mid-1800s helped Wyoming become a territory and then a state.

Copper mining that began in the late 1800s peaked in the early 1900s when the Ferris-Haggarty mine in the Sierra Madre was one of the top 30 copper mines in the world. After its closure in 1908, Wyoming no longer was a significant copper producer, although a large resource still exists in that mine. Exploration in the 1950s through the 1980s identified substantial copper resources at several locations in the Absaroka Mountains, and in the early 2000s, exploration in the Silver Crown district in the Laramie Mountains expanded a known copper resource.

Iron mining began near Rawlins in the 1870s, in the Sunrise area in 1898, and in the Atlantic City Iron Mine near South Pass in 1962. The last reported production from Rawlins was in 1945. Iron mining ceased at Sunrise in 1980 and at South Pass in 1983, although both mines still host significant iron resources.

Continuous miner operating in OCI's underground Big Island trona mine, 2008.Industrial minerals such as bentonite (first described in Wyoming), gypsum, aggregate, crushed stone, chemical-grade limestone, decorative stone, and trona, play a continuing role in the state’s economy. In fact, Wyoming’s trona resources, an estimated 127 billion tons, are the largest in the world.

Wyoming also hosts a wide variety of gemstones that include diamonds, jade, iolite, agates, and petrified wood. These precious and semiprecious stones have attracted both amateur rock collectors and commercial interests from across the nation and around the world.