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Mica - Much of the mica mined in Colorado is used in the construction industry.  However, some mica is used as a major source of aquarium rock. 

Several other uses for mica include: compound for filling and finishing seams and blemishes in wall board, paint, neon signs, hair dye, cosmetics, soap, and electronics.


           Mica Mine, Fremont County, CO                                                  Mica Glasspanes

Dolomite - Dolomite is mined in serveral locations in the Arkansas River Valley and along the Front Range. It is another important local commodity used in a residential capacity, but it is also exported for industrial and commercial applications.

Several uses for dolomite include: asphalt, pavement, ceramics, fertilizer additive, decorative stone and monument construction.


                        Dolomite Quarry                                                            Dolomite Bricks

Clay - The United States is the world's leading producer of clay, and with Colorado's abundant resources, the state plays a major role in clay production.  Most of Colorado's clay resources can be found in the eastern portions of Colorado. 

Clay is a major component in the production of many industrial and commercial products, such as pottery, porcelain, brick, dishware, paper production, chemical filtering, pharmaceuticals, building materials (i.e. cement), and construction.


            Clay Mine, Fremont County, CO                                               Fireplace made of clay bricks 

Bentonite - Bentonite is a variety of clay. Most of the clay that is mined in Colorado is common clay, used in the production of brick and tile.  Bentonite is an exception.  Bentonite is clay that formed from volcanic ash.  Because of its unique absorption properties, and high cat ion exchange capacity, it has many specific applications in industry. 

Bentonite is commonly used in construction, ceramics, pyrotechnics, oil and gas, and aerospace industries, as well as in wine and vegetable oil production (clarifying agent), as a liner in landfills and ponds and nuclear waste repositories (waterproofing/sealant), and as an odor absorbent in cat litter. 


        Bentonite Clay Mine, Fremont County, CO                                               Pyrotechnics

Gypsum - In 2009, Colorado produced 281,000 metric tons of gypsum for the construction industry. The largest industrial use of gypsum is in the manufacture of gypsum wallboard (commonly referred to as drywall), which is used because of its fire-resistance, low cost, and durability.  It is also an important ingredient in plaster and cement. 

Typical uses for gypsum include: wall board, plaster, cement production, soil conditioners, surgical and orthopedic casts, food additives, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and toothpaste additives.


         Gypsum Mine, Summit County, CO                                             Gypsum Drywall

Limestone - Limestone is a widespread natural resource in Colorado, with the vast quantity of limestone occurring east of the Front Range and several other locations to the west, such as Monarch Pass.  Limestone is currently being produced in Boulder, Fremont, and Pueblo counties. 

It is widely used in both residential and commercial settings as: cement, building block, pavement, flooring, countertops, acid water treatment, road material, decorative stone, tile, concrete additive, power plant scrubbers, soil conditioners, and in the pharmaceutical industry.


                   Limestone Formations                             Limestone Home, Denver, CO

Granite - Granite is a widespread natural resource in Colorado.  A great deal of the granite mined in Colorado is used locally for: building stone, decorative stone, monumental stone, headstones, curbing, sidewalks, countertops, flooring, tiles, and road material.


         Granite Quarry, Fremont County, CO                                 Granite Headstone

Sandstone - Sandstone has many applications in both industry and residential settings.  It is a widespread resource throughout Colorado, and provides an excellent domestic and export commodity. Sandstone is frequently used in industrial flooring and linings because of its resistance to corrosive chemicals and abrasive materials. Additionally, sandstone is used residentially for decorative purposes. 

In response to public demand, the Bureau of Land Management has worked to make this material easily available for public collection in Fremont and Huerfano counties.


      Sandstone Quarry, Las Animas County, CO           Archway made from quarried sandstone blocks

Sand and Gravel – Sand, gravel, and crushed stone form an industrial mineral group called "aggregates," and are found in nearly every county in Colorado.  Aggregates represent 77 percent of Colorado’s total mineral material production.  Typically, sand and gravel quarries are located near to their source, such as in river valleys, and their products are not transported far from that source.  This is why several quarries are usually located throughout a region rather than in one large resource area.

Sand and gravel are industrial minerals that are used in road construction, manufacturing, decorative landscaping, and agriculture.  According to the Colorado Geological Society, 400 tons of sand, gravel, and crushed rock, are used in the construction of a typical home. 

Other uses for sand and gravel resources include: constituent in concrete, fertilizer fillers, icy highway treatments, filters, and in sand boxes and volleyball courts. 


   Sand and Gravel Quarry, Chaffee County, CO                                    Asphalt on Highway

Uranium - Uranite, the black oxide mineral of uranium, was first discovered in 1871, in the gold and quartz veins of the Wood Mine near Central City, Colorado.  Ten years later a yellow uranium oxide mineral (carnotite) was discovered in southwest Colorado on Roc Creek in Montrose County.  This original discovery was responsible for the development of the highly productive Uravan mining district near the Utah border.  Colorado experienced six boom and bust periods ofin uranium (and associated minerals) production during the twentieth century: 1) Radium boom of the 1910s; 2) Vanadium boom of the 1930s-1940s; 3) Uranium boom of the 1940s – related to WWII weapons manufacture; 4) Uranium boom of the 1950s - 1970s; 5) decline from the 1970s to 1990s, and 6) a resurgence starting in 2003. 

Today, the United States is the world’s leader in nuclear energy production and usage.  On average, the world requires 66,500 tons of uranium per year to fuel its 439 nuclear reactors; however, in 2005, the worldwide production was only 41,600 tons.  The U.S. produced a mere 1,700 tons of uranium in 2006, while the average consumption was approximately 19,000 tons in 2008. This discrepancy required the U.S. to import more than 90 percent of its uranium for domestic use.  As a result, Colorado's deposits of uranium have become increasingly more important for the nation. 

Uranium is produced primarily for power generation.  In the future, nuclear power could be crucial in order to complete a diverse energy portfolio for the nation.  Other uses for uranium include: military applications, vacuum capacitors, glazes, and glass production.


             Uraninite Crystals                                         Uranium glass glowing under UV light

Cement – Cement is made from calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and small amounts of other ingredients, including gypsum. Lime and silica make up approximately 85 percent of cement, and limestone provides one of the main materials for manufacture of cement. Limestone is currently produced in Boulder, Fremont, and Pueblo counties. 

Cement is the main component in concrete mixes, acting as a binder to hold other materials together.  Historically, burnt lime (limestone) was combined with volcanic ash and pulverized brick additives to create cement.  Today, cement is created by heating limestone with small quantities of other minerals, such as clay, in a kiln.  Cement is widely used in the construction industry, especially in the production of mortar and concrete. 

Cement should not be confused with concrete because cement refers to the material used to bind together the aggregate materials of concrete.  Concrete, however, is a combination of cement and aggregate.


                        Cement Plant                                                                  Cement Pallet