Mineral fuels account for 97 percent of the value of North Dakota’s mineral output. Petroleum, which was first brought into production in 1951, accounted for three-fifths of the value of North Dakota’s annual mineral output in the late 1990s. It occurs in a large geologic structure, called the Williston Basin, that underlies western North Dakota as well as parts of South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Lignite, a low-grade coal, has been mined in the state since the 1880s. Output reached 3.3 million tons in 1950 and did not exceed that total again until 1966. Thereafter, production increased steadily, reaching 28 million metric tons in 2006. Only Texas produces more lignite than North Dakota.
Like other mineral fuels in North Dakota, lignite comes from the western half of the state. Mercer, Oliver, and McLean counties account for more than 90 percent of the production. Some of the lignite beds in southwestern North Dakota contain small amounts of uranium.
In national production the state ranks ninth in production of oil although it extracts just 2 percent of the U.S. total. Most of the crude oil is refined at Mandan, although some is shipped to refineries in other states. Williams and McKenzie counties lead all the others in petroleum production. Natural gas was discovered in North Dakota at the end of the l9th century. Commercial production began in 1929.
Most of the gas is taken from the oil wells of the Williston Basin. The largest of the nation’s three coal gasification plants is in North Dakota, located near Beulah. It turns the state’s lignite into a high quality synthetic natural gas, in addition to several chemical byproducts with industrial uses.
Other minerals of importance are sand and gravel, which are made into bricks and other products. Salt is found in the Williston Basin, peat is extracted in Bottineau County, and lime is made at Drayton. "North Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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