Mining and quarrying

Kansas has a long history of producing industrial rocks and minerals, which include any rock and mineral of economic value, excluding metallic rocks and ores, coal, oil, and natural gas.

Limestone is quarried for building stone, cement, road base, railroad ballast, and many other uses mainly in the eastern one-third of the state where Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks crop out. Clay and shale from central Kansas (Cretaceous) and eastern Kansas (Pennsylvanian) are mined in open pits and used to make a variety of products, including bricks and tiles. Early farmers in central Kansas quarried limestone for fence posts where trees were sparse. Sandstone also has been used as building material in Kansas.

Gypsum, produced from open pits and underground mines, is used in cement and to produce gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) and plaster. It is mined in Marshall County in northeastern Kansas and Barber County in south-central Kansas.

Thick salt deposits in central Kansas are mined for uses ranging from road de-icing to livestock feed.

Sand and gravel operations are the most common and widespread of the natural resource facilities in the state. Most of the dredges and pits are along the Kansas River in northeastern Kansas and the Arkansas River in central and western Kansas.

Lead and zinc were mined in southeastern Kansas from 1870 to 1970. Coal was mined in the state from the 1850s until 2016.


Buchanan, R., 2010, Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils (2nd ed.): Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 240 p.

Buchanan, R., and McCauley, J. R., 2010, Roadside Kansas: A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks (2nd ed.): Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 392 p.

Kansas Rocks and Minerals, Kansas Geological Survey Educational Series 2.