Bituminous coal, crushed stone, and oil are the most valuable mineral products in Illinois. Together they accounted for three-fourths of the state’s mineral output by value in 1997.
In 1997 Illinois produced 4 percent of the nation’s coal. The coal occurs in a huge, basin-like structure that underlies about two-thirds of the state, mainly in southern and central Illinois. The principal coal producing counties are Perry, Franklin, and Saline. Illinois has more extensive bituminous coal reserves than any other state in the nation. Despite the large reserves, however, coal production remains below the levels of output reached during the first half of the 20th century, partly because the coal is high in sulfur content, which contributes to air pollution when burned. In the middle of the basin, mining is carried on by the traditional method of deepshaft mining. Approximately two-thirds of the coal now produced annually in the state is from these mines.
The remainder comes from strip mining, which is carried on around the edge of the basin, where the coal beds lie close to the surface. Strip mining has declined because of environmental protection regulations, enacted in the 1970s, requiring that strip-mined land be restored to its original condition.
Oil, first discovered in Clark County in 1865, is now produced from a number of small oil fields scattered over the southeastern part of the state. In 1997 Illinois’ production of crude oil ranked third among the states east of the Mississippi River, behind Mississippi and Alabama. Production, however, is decreasing, and Illinois contributed just one percent of the nation’s total crude oil in 1997. A small amount of natural gas is also produced in Illinois.
Among the other minerals produced in Illinois are stone, sand and gravel, cement, clays, peat, tripoli, and zinc. Until the mid-1990s much of the nation’s fluorspar, which is widely used in small quantities in the ceramic, chemical, and steel industries, came from Hardin and Pope counties in southeastern Illinois. Fluorspar mining has since ceased in the state. Lead, important in the Galena area in the first half of the 19th century, is no longer significant, mainly because the best deposits have been exhausted. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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