Natural resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles.
What would our lives be like without mining? Imagine a world without transportation such as jet planes or railroads, without communications such as cell phones or radar, without decorative items such as art or jewelry, without buildings such as skyscrapers or parking garages, without defense systems items such as missiles or submarines, without medical care items such as X-rays or surgical tools. We wouldn’t have any of these things without mining and minerals.
Lead (element #82, symbol Pb) is a very soft, blue-gray, metallic element. It is primarily produced from the mineral galena. It has been used since antiquity. Water pipes in ancient Rome, some of which still carry water, were made of lead. The English words plumber and plumbing are derived from the Latin word for lead, plumbum— the source of the chemical symbol for lead, Pb. Today lead is used mostly in car batteries.
The U.S. is the world's largest producer and consumer of refined lead metal. Major mine producers other than the U.S. include Australia, Canada, China, Peru, and Kazakhstan.
In the U.S., six lead mines in Missouri, plus lead-producing mines in Alaska and Idaho, accounted for all domestic mine production. Significant amounts of lead are recovered as a by-product or co-product from zinc mines, and silver-copper deposits. Primary refined lead was produced at one smelter-refinery in Missouri. Of the plants that produced secondary lead at year end 2013, 12 had capacities of 30,000 tons per year of refined lead or greater and accounted for more than 95% of secondary production.
See also Galena.