Surface operations at the Climax molybdenum mine, Lake County, Colorado, 2009. Photo credit: Vince Matthews for the CGS.


Colorado contains an abundance of mineral resources. The state has a long history of mining that started during the 1858 Colorado Gold Rush (also known as the Pikes Peak Gold Rush) before the area was established as a territory. As several southern states left the Union in the early 1860s, the Territory of Colorado was established in 1861. The initial gold rush only lasted until the early 1860s and focused on gold concentrated in placers (modern river sediments). As mining practices evolved and surface rocks containing gold were discovered, gold and other metal mining activities shifted to hardrock mining. Some of the first hardrock gold mining in the state included the areas around Clear Creek especially at Black Hawk and Central City.

As gold mining expanded in other areas, Colorado was admitted into the Union in 1876. Other mineral deposits were discovered by the late 19th and early 20th century that contained other metals including silver, lead, zinc, copper, and tungsten. World-class deposits containing those metals along with molybdenum and other commodities were mined in the state. Currently, deposits of gold and molybdenum make up most current metal production. Other minerals and commodities currently mined across the state include oil, natural gas, coal, carbon dioxide, helium, sand, gravel, quarry aggregate, clay, limestone, gypsum, nahcolite (sodium bicarbonate), and dimension and decorative stone (e.g., marble, sandstone).

Mineral Resources

Martin Marietta Aggregates in Jefferson County, Colorado, March 2013. Photo credit: Michael O'Keeffe for the CGS.

Industrial Minerals

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Diamonds in the rough, note the regular octahedral forms and trigons (of positive and negative relief) formed by natural chemical etching. Photo credit: Wikimedia.


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Uranium-bearing minerals, Uravan area, Colorado, May 2005. Photo credit: Jason Price for the CGS.

Strategic and Critical Minerals

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Old Uranium Drive-In sign in Uravan, Colorado, the site of major uranium opeerations in the 20th century. Photo credit: CGS.


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The Wolftone and neighboring mines. Looking southward from track near head of Seventh Street, Leadville, Lake County, Colorado, 1913. Photo credit: G.F. Loughlin.

Historic Mining Districts

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Our latest Mineral Resource publication:

IS-85 Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities 2021-2022

CGS geoscientists conduct mineral resource studies to identify and describe the rocks and minerals associated with these resources. We study mineral deposits to support land use planning and the development of these resources. Some of our projects are currently focused on critical mineral deposits, aggregate, and other industrial mineral resources. Our older publications that are still in use today are being converted to digital formats. GIS data downloads and interactive maps associated with some of our more recent and older studies are included in the GIS Data tab. Results of these studies are available for download on our publications page. The Publications tab on this page includes some of our minerals publications dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Mineral resource information is also provided to the general public, teachers, state and federal agencies, and private companies through public requests. The CGS answers email and phone requests for information about a minerals from a large variety of public and private entities. We also have recently provided mineral resource information to several state and federal entities including the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Colorado Office of the State Auditor, Colorado State Land Board, US Bureau of Land Management, and the US Geological Survey. The state’s mineral and energy commodity production, prices, value, exploration, mineral resource issues, and severance tax trends are presented annually in our Mineral and Energy Industry Activities (MEIA) report (IS-85 Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities 2021-2022). This report also provides historic commodity production and price trends.