Bituminous coal, by far the most valuable mineral produced in Kentucky, accounted for four-fifths of the state’s total mineral production, by value, in the late 1990s. Other valuable minerals produced are natural gas, oil, crushed stone, lime, cement, clays, and gemstones.
In 1997 Kentucky ranked third among the states in quantity of bituminous coal produced, behind Wyoming and West Virginia. Coal is mined in Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field and Western Coal Field. The eastern field is larger and contains a better quality coal, and consequently is the source of the largest share of production. While some surface, or strip, mining is done, most coal comes from a few, very large underground mines.
Oil deposits underlie much of both coalfield areas and also the southern part of the Pennyroyal. The leading oil-producing areas are Union, Henderson, Daviess, Hopkins, and Webster counties in the western part of the Western Coal Field and Lee County on the Cumberland Plateau. Most of the state’s output of natural gas comes from gas fields in the easternmost part of the Appalachian Plateaus region.
Crushed stone, lime, and portland cement were the top nonfuel minerals by value of production in 1997. Stone, sand, and gravel are produced throughout the state. The production of lime, used as the binding agent in cement and concrete, is centered in the north of the state. Clays are produced in the Gulf Coastal Plain, where there are high-grade clays suitable for pottery making, and in the northern part of the Appalachian Plateaus region, where fireclays for use in blast furnaces are mined. Kentucky consistently ranks among the top states in the production of gemstones. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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