Kentucky's State Mineral: Coal
Kentucky's State Mineral is coal. Bituminous coal is mined in two coal fields; the Western Kentucky Coal Field and the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field. Coal is mined because coal is a rock that burns. Most of the coal mined in Kentucky is burned to produce electricity at power plants. From 1971 to 1988 Kentucky was the leading producer of coal in the United States. Peak production was in 1990, when 173 million tons was produced. Much less coal is currently mined. Nearly 10 billion tons of coal have been mined from Kentucky since 1790.
In 1998, students from Louisville petitioned the State Legislature to make coal the official State Mineral. One problem is that scientifically coal is a rock, not a mineral. Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. Rocks are composed of many minerals. But legally, coal is considered a mineral resource and is taxed as a mineral. The legislature passed the resolution in the summer of 1998, and coal is now the official State Mineral of Kentucky.