Over the past few years, Utah’s economy has gotten a lot of positive press. Its burgeoning technology sector is one of the fastest growing in the country, and the state managed to maintain an impressively low rate of unemployment during the post-housing-bubble recession. Salt Lake City has even been heralded by some in recent years as the New Silicon Valley. So it comes as no surprise that many forget about Utah’s largest and most prosperous industry: mining.
The state’s mining days began in the early 19th century when Sanford and Thomas Bingham discovered a large copper deposit in the Oquirrh Mountain, south of Salt Lake City. After a railroad connecting the area to the outside world was constructed in 1873, their find precipitated a mining rush and a large number of immigrants flocked to the area hoping to cash in on the valuable ore. The mine was acquired by international mining giant Rio Tinto in 1989, and today the Bingham Canyon Mine is the second largest copper source in the United States. Utah’s mining sector has profound economic repercussions on the towns surrounding and supported by these operations. The Tooele Utah Real Estate industry, for example, depends on the nearby Bingham Mine to sustain a large section of the community’s economy.
Nor is Utah’s mining success limited to the Bingham Canyon Mine. Similar boom stories can be found all across Utah. Moab was, for a time in the 50s, known as the Uranium capital of the world, and numerous gold, silver, zinc, and beryllium operations are spread across the state. Outside of Salt Lake City, petroleum refineries are numerous and are no doubt a large contributor to the state’s $115 billion GDP. Indeed, Utah has made it clear that its mining interests aren’t going anywhere soon, and investors and analysts would do well not to lose sight of this valuable industry.