Global Player: Mining in the Intermountain West

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Global Player: Mining in the Intermountain West

At Industrial Supply, we strive to be at the forefront of fully understanding the major industries in our region. And that means we know a lot about mining.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming are some of our country’s top producers of nonfuel mineral commodities. In 2018, each of these states—which were respectively ranked first, eighth, and twelfth for mineral production—produced more than $2 billion worth of these materials. This is a remarkably high number that indicates the mining industry’s substantial impact on our area’s economies.

There is no question that mining has shaped the development of the Intermountain West. What is increasingly clear is that our region also plays a significant role in the world market for metals and mined industrial materials. This is exemplified by a quick review of three very different mined products from the states we serve.

Beryllium in Utah

Beryllium is an extremely light metal that has one of the highest melting points of all the light metal elements. It is primarily used in aerospace and defense applications—such as missiles, spacecraft, and satellites—because of its stiffness, light weight, and stability over a wide range of temperatures. Beryllium is also used in cellphones and other consumer electronics. The U.S. Department of the Interior has classified beryllium as a “critical mineral,” which is essential to our economy and national security. 

The Spor Mountain area in Juab County, Utah is home to the world’s only volcanic source of beryllium. According to Ken Krahulec, the Utah Geological Survey’s Senior Economic Geologist, mining at Spor Mountain produces about 70 percent of the global supply of beryllium! The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that last year, the consumption of beryllium-based products increased by about 20 percent, underscoring Utah’s considerable importance in the beryllium market.

Gold in Nevada

According to the Nevada Mining Association, in 2018, Nevada’s production of gold accounted for 83 percent of the total gold produced in the United States, and over 5 percent of the world’s production of the metal. We all think of gold as being used to create beautiful jewelry or being cast as gold bars, but its properties make it valuable to the ever-increasing and important technology industry. Gold can be easily flattened into a sheet or stretched into a wire, is resistant to corrosion, and conducts electricity, and all of these properties make it the perfect material for electrical connectors in all types of computerized devices.

Trona in Wyoming

Wyoming is home to the world’s largest deposit of the mineral trona, a sodium carbonate compound that is processed into soda ash or bicarbonate of soda. The state supplies an astounding 90 percent of the soda ash used in the United States, and worldwide, it is a top producer of natural—rather than chemically induced synthetic—soda ash. The Wyoming Mining Association states that trona is Wyoming’s top export and is shipped to markets around the globe. 

Glass making consumes about half of all soda ash produced, followed by the chemical industry, which uses about a quarter of the output. Other uses include soap, paper manufacturing, and water treatment. And yes, bicarbonate of soda is also known as “baking soda,” so that box of baking soda in your kitchen most likely originated in Wyoming!

Industrial Supply is proud to serve our region’s mining industry. With branch locations in Elko, Nevada, Rock Springs and Gillette, Wyoming, Industrial Supply is there where you need us and when you need us for your mining needs. We’ve developed a network of experts who can meet the unique training, supply, and facility needs of all mining companies. With knowledgeable outside sales team members, there’s no problem Industrial Supply can’t solve. From the largest mining operations to the smallest, we’re here to help by providing exceptional customer service, vendor managed inventory, vending, and quick delivery to all 7 of our locations, just to name a few. For more information contact one of our experts today


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