Mineral Resources of Wyoming

The 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, nephrite jade. However, metals and industrial minerals are also prominent in Wyoming and an important part of our State’s history. Modern exploration in Wyoming includes base and precious metals, gemstones, and industrial and critical 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 worldwide. After the mine’s 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 mountain range, and continuing exploration in the Silver Crown mining district in the Laramie Mountains expanded a known copper and gold resource.

Interactive Map
Link to interactive Mineral Resources of Wyoming map
azurite and tenorite copper ore
Blue azurite and black Tenorite in the Jurassic-Triassic Nugget Sandstone from the Griggs mine in the western Wyoming thrust belt. [Credit: Wayne M. Sutherland, WSGS]

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.

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.

Critical minerals, such as rare earth elements and platinum group elements, have either been historically mined in Wyoming or are currently being explored and developed. Wyoming is home to many potential critical mineral deposits, which could have a role in the state's economy in the future.

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

The WSGS recently launched an online compilation of mines and mineral occurrences in Wyoming. The “Mineral Resources of Wyoming” interactive map provides a wide variety of data and services, including active WSGS projects; geochemical data; locations of WSGS reports, maps, and samples; select USGS and other federal mineral reports and datasets; active and historical mine locations and information; an index of uranium log locations and links to download the logs; mineral leases information; critical mineral systems; and geophysical grids showing magnetic, aero-radiometric, and gravity data from both new high-resolution geophysical surveys and older, lower-resolution data available statewide. The interactive map was developed to promote greater awareness and understanding of the state’s minerals resources and available reports, data and areas of active study. Although the map is a continual work in progress, the data shown will help planners, prospectors, researchers, and individuals find mining and geologic information.


Patty Webber, patty.webber@wyo.gov