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Wyoming: The Soda Ash Capital of the World
Mining is the cornerstone of progress and prosperity in society. The more mining, the more consumer products can be manufactured that have the capability to improve our standard of living. Minerals are the ultimate source used to make these products but the average U.S. consumer is familiar with only some of them, such as salt, sand, and quartz, because of their widespread usage. Not many people have heard of the mineral trona, but it is refined into a chemical called sodium carbonate—better known as soda ash, which is used in many consumer goods used everyday. Wyoming is the major trona-producing area of the world and contains sufficient reserves to last hundreds of years. The Wyoming soda ash industry has become the lowest-cost soda ash producer worldwide. The industry employs nearly 3300 people and generates about three-quarters of a billion dollars of revenue annually. Soda ash is one of the few domestic commodities for which the United States is a net exporter. Exports of Wyoming soda ash, which account for about one third of the domestic production, will continue into the next century and will be used by virtually every person in the world in some consumer product. Perhaps trona will no longer remain an unfamilar mineral, and it will finally receive its recognition as one the world's major industrial minerals.
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