Value of Utah metals production increases to $3.3 billion, but coal production value drops

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — While coal production value went down in Utah, the overall value of the state’s mineral production went up approximately 7 percent in 2017, totaling about $3.3 billion, according to a new report by the Utah Geological Survey.

Copper, one of Utah’s most prolifically produced base metals | Photo by Jurii via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

The publication, “Utah Mining 2017,” contains detailed information on value and production of Utah’s mined commodities, including metals, industrial minerals and coal.

The value of both base and precious metals production increased significantly in 2017 — 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Base metal production contributed $1.4 billion to the total value and includes copper, magnesium, beryllium and molybdenum; copper accounts for 70 percent of total base metal production value.

Precious metals produced in Utah include gold and silver, valued at $261 million in 2017. Utah also produced industrial mineral commodities, such as sand and gravel, crushed stone, salt, potash, cement, lime, phosphate, gilsonite, clays, gypsum and others.

The estimated value of industrial mineral production in 2017 reached $1.2 billion, a 5 percent increase over 2016. The most valuable industrial mineral group in 2017, estimated at $410 million, was brine- and evaporite-derived commodities, including potash, salt and magnesium chloride.

Notably, Utah remains the only state to produce magnesium metal, beryllium concentrate, potassium sulfate and gilsonite. Of these mineral commodities, magnesium, beryllium and potash (includes potassium sulfate) are included on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 2018 critical mineral list.

Nationally, the U.S. Geological Survey ranked Utah 8th in production of metals and industrial minerals in 2017. Utah has ranked among the top ten for the past decade.

Coal production down

In contrast to other minable commodities, the value of Utah coal production decreased in 2017 to $493 million, from $509 million in 2016.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration ranked Utah as the 11th largest coal producer out of 24 coal-producing states. The state accounted for 1.9 percent of total U.S. coal production.

Revised report

The Utah Geological Survey’s summary report has been substantially revised since its previous release and includes helpful new figures showing historical production of a variety of mineral commodities and highlights various economic data, such as the mineral industry’s tax contributions. “Utah Mining 2017” also provides information on historically produced commodities, such as uranium, and current mineral exploration and development within the state, including information about vanadium and lithium.

The 30-page report, Utah Mining 2017 (UGS Circular 123), is available as a free download on the UGS website.

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