Washington has an approximately $689 million/year
non-fuel mineral industry (according to the USGS
Mineral Commodity Summaries 2013) that includes sand
and gravel, crushed stone, metals, and industrial minerals,
such as diatomite, clay, silica, and olivine. The Geology and
Earth Resources Division has produced many mineral and
other resource inventories.
Aggregate & Rock Resources
ICON Materials Baydo aggregate processing plant in south Auburn, WA is one of the largest mines in the state.
Photo courtesy of Rian Skov, DNR.
Aggregate resources include sand and gravel and crushed rock. Quarried rock includes decorative stone (granite, limestone, dolomite, marble, and basalt) and riprap.
The sand, gravel, and quarried rock industries, which produce construction aggregates, fill, pit run, riprap, and larger rock products, are a key component of Washington's economy, and construction aggregates and fill are the most valuable mineral commodity in Washington. Most aggregate is consumed for general construction: homes, owner-occupied buildings, schools, and offices. An average home requires approximately 50 cubic yards of concrete and a large building requires about 5,000 cubic yards. These are used for footings, stem walls, walls, support, and access.
Rock products provide the basis for infrastructure construction and maintenance, including low-cost housing , highways, and public works. Recent emphasis has been on locating the aggregate resources needed for highway and infrastructure construction.
We have produced aggregate resource maps that are useful for guiding zoning decisions and balanced resource planning at the local level. To date, only about 10% of the state has been mapped for aggregate resources.
Minerals--Metallic & Industrial
Buckhorn Mountain gold mine in Okanogan County, WA. Photo courtesy of Rian Skov, DNR.
Major metallic minerals mined in Washington include gold, silver, lead, magnesium, and zinc. Major industrial minerals mined in Washington include barite, clay, carbonate rocks, olivine, diatomite, volcanic ash, peat, and silica.
Knowledge of the occurrence of minerals in Washington has been accumulating steadily since 1853, when the first mine (a coal property) was developed. During the 160 years or more that prospecting and mining have been active, a vast amount of information has been obtained on the minerals of the state. DGER itself has published more than 200 bulletins and reports on geology and mineral resources. Additional materials , such as unpublished, personal observations of staff members and notes from many years of field investigations, have also been archived. All of these sources of information can be consulted at the Division office in Olympia.
Bulletin 37, “Inventory of Washington Minerals,” evolved from data collected in card catalogs by Division staff. The listings were purposely made as concise as possible, while providing essential facts. Bulletin 37 may be used for obtaining general information about any mineral resource, or it may be used as a starting point for detailed investigations using the searchable Publications List (PDF) and the online catalog of the Washington Geology Library.
Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Mines, and many other agencies, institutions, organizations, and individuals, have contributed extensively to the wealth of published data. Mining journals and periodicals, many of which are no longer published, have carried useful accounts of old operations and mineral discoveries. These publications are available at the Washington Geology Library. Newspaper clippings and other ephemera are also available in the Division mine files.
To find a particular publication, search the Washington Geology Library catalog database title or subject fields using a particular element, mineral, or subject name (for example, “gold,” “diatomite,” or “surface mines”) and location (for example, “Ferry County”).
Some standard search terms in the Subject Index for Metallic and Industrial Minerals:
| abandoned mines||garnet||molybdenum||rockhounding|
| aluminum||industrial minerals||nonmetallic||silica|
| arsenic||lead||opal||strategic minerals|
| asbestos||limestone||open pit mines||sulfur|
| barite||magnesium||ore deposits||surface mines|
| beryllium||mica||potassium||trace elements|
| boron||mineral collecting||precious stones||tungsten|
| cadmium||mineral evaluation||prospecting||underground mines|
| chromium||mineral resources||quarrying||uranium|
| clay||mineral waters||quartz||volcanic ash |
| copper||mines||radium||zeolites |
| diamond||mining||rare earth||zinc |
| economic geology||mining claims||rare metals|| |
| feldspar||molybdenite||refractory materials|| |
In addition to the publications mentioned above, DGER maintains a number of GIS databases related to Mining & Minerals. Please visit our GIS Data and Databases page to access downloadable databases of Inactive and Abandoned Mine Lands, Washington Metal Mines, Industrial Mineral Occurrences, and Active Surface Mine Permit Sites.
For more information on coal mines in Washington State, please visit our Abandoned Coal & Metal Mines page, Coal Mine Maps Collection, and our online interactive geologic maps portal.
Mining Law, Regulations & Permits
The DNR is responsible for mine inspections, and reclamation regulations and permitting. Please visit our Mining & Energy Resource Regulation page for more information.