Minerals of New Mexico

December 17, 2014


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Mines in New Mexico produce a number of different minerals that are incorporated into a myriad of products. New Mexico produces extractive energy resources, extractive non-fuel resources, and renewable and secondary energy sources.
Extractive Non-fuel Resources
Copper

  • Copper is one of the most valuable industrial metals in the world.
  • New Mexico is the third largest producer of copper in the United States.
  • New Mexico copper is used chiefly in the manufacturing of electrical wire.
  • Electrical uses of copper include power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunications, and electrical and electronic products.
  • Freport-McMoRan Mining Company produces copper and base metals principally in Grant County in southwest New Mexico.

Molybdenum

  • Molybdenum is a metallic element used principally as an alloying agent in steel and cast iron.
  • When combining molybdenum with other metals including manganese, it enhances the hardening, strength, toughness, and corrosion resistance of metals.
  • New Mexico has one molybdenum mine operated by Chevron Mining, Questa Mine in Taos County.
  • China’s high level of steel production and consumption provides stable demand for New Mexico’s molybdenum.

Potash

  • New Mexico ranks first in potash production in the United States.
  • Potash is a mined mineral containing water-soluble potassium.
  • Potash is mined from accent ocean deposits over 300 million years old.
  • It is primarily used as an agricultural fertilizer (plant nutrient).
  • Modern agricultural practice uses potash and other nutrients to assure plant health and increased yields.

Aggregate

  • Aggregate includes crushed stone, sand, and gravel.
  • Aggregate is primarily used in construction materials like concrete and asphalt.

Additional mineral commodities in New Mexico and their uses:

  • Clay – Adobe brick, brick, roofing granules, and quarry tile
  • Gypsum – Wallboard in homes
  • Humate – A soil conditioner
  • Iron Ore – Steelmaking and to increase the strength of cement
  • Limestone – Cement
  • Mica – Joint compound, paint, roofing, drilling additives, and rubber products
  • Perlite – Building construction products and horticultural aggregate
  • Pumice – Building products
  • Salt – Feedstock and highway de-icing
  • Sulfuric Acid – Copper recovery and industrial processes
  • Zeolite – Pet litter, animal feed, and horticultural applications

Extractive Energy Resources
Coal

  • There are five coal mines that are active in New Mexico.
  • All of the mines are located in northwest New Mexico.
  • Coal is primarily used as an energy source.
  • New Mexico produces over 25 million pounds of coal annually.

Uranium

  • The Grants Uranium Belt in New Mexico has been the most prolific producer of uranium in the United States.
  • New Mexico is second only to Wyoming in uranium reserves.
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