The principal nonfuel minerals produced in Tennessee are crushed stone, zinc, cement, sand and gravel, and clay. Bituminous coalfields underlie 13,000 sq km (5,000 sq mi) of the state in the Cumberland Plateau, and Tennessee derives a significant portion of its total mining income from this fuel. Stone, primarily limestone, marble, and sandstone, is produced in numerous counties in central and eastern Tennessee. Tennessee ranks among the leading states in the quarrying of marble. The state leads the country in the production of natural gemstones and ball clay (a clay with a high content of organic material). It is second in zinc production, behind only Alaska. Zinc is mined chiefly in eastern Tennessee, but in 1969 a major zinc deposit was discovered in the central part of the state. Other minerals produced in the state in the late 1990s include petroleum, barite, lead, and lime.
The production of motor vehicles and parts constitutes Tennessee’s largest industry in terms of contribution to the overall state economy. Transportation goods manufactured in the state also include aircraft parts and boats. Other leading industries include those producing chemical products such as organic and inorganic compounds used in industry, synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, and explosives; food products, particularly milled grains, baked goods, confections, and beverages; machinery such as refrigeration and heating equipment, metalworking machines, and construction equipment; rubber and synthetic compounds, especially tires and miscellaneous plastics; and fabricated metal products such as structural metal pieces, steel pipe, and aluminum sheets.
Other important industries are printing and publishing, electronics, lumber and paper mills, apparel manufactures, and firms engaged in producing surgical appliances and supplies.
Manufacturing of durable goods such as automobiles and metal products has been growing quickly in Tennessee. Many industries have been attracted to the state by the relatively low cost of labor, power, and raw materials, by the number of waterfront sites on navigable rivers and lakes, and by Tennessee’s central location in relation to markets. The eastern part of the state is the most highly industrialized area as a whole, although Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, are the state’s main industrial centers. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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