Missouri – Premier Lead Producer of the World

Geological Survey Program fact sheet
09/2019
Missouri Geological Survey Director: Joe Gillman
PUB659

Lead Mining – a Missouri Institution

Since 1700 lead has played an important role in the growth and development of Missouri, and has been mined continuously in the state for more than 300 years. The history of Missouri begins with the history of its lead mining. Lead mining hastened settlement of the wilderness, affected the building of roads and railroads, generated commerce and industry, and created an economic base for generations of Missourians. It has been said that Missouri is a state built on a foundation of lead.

Lead Minerals and Deposits

Some of the largest and most important lead deposits in the world are located in southeast Missouri, and comprise a world class ore district. While lead deposits in the state are extensive and extremely rich, they have very simple mineralogy. Only a few of the many known lead-bearing minerals were mined in Missouri. Chief is the lead sulfide mineral galena (PbS), the most abundant lead mineral found in the state. The secondary lead minerals cerussite (PbCO3, or lead carbonate) and anglesite (PbSO4, or lead sulfate) were also mined, but are far less common and are found only in small quantities.

Missouri – Premier Lead Producer of the World

Total, all-time production is estimated at more than 17 million tons, valued at nearly 40 billion dollars at current prices. For more than 110 years, Missouri has led all other states in lead production, and in 2000, the last year for which production data is available, accounted for 74 percent of total U.S. production. Missouri has also led the world in lead production. The tremendous resource of known lead deposits currently being mined in the Viburnum Trend of southeast Missouri, as well as continued exploration for new deposits, virtually guarantees Missouri a leading role in lead production for years to come.

Galena – Official State Mineral

It seems only fitting that Missouri's most historically and economically important mineral be properly recognized by the people of the state. To that end, in 1967 the General Assembly enacted legislation designating galena the official state mineral of Missouri. Galena can be found as scattered occurrences throughout the southern part of the state, and is found in greater concentrations in the Southeast Missouri Lead District, which includes the Old Lead Belt and the Viburnum Trend, and in the Tri-State District in southwest Missouri.