Economic Resources



Oil and Gas

Oil and gas resources have been produced in Pennsylvania for over 150 years.  Whether you’re interested in the more historical aspects of Pennsylvania petroleum or the current Marcellus shale gas play, you can learn more by clicking here.




Mineral Industries

These resources are used for construction, manufacturing, and many other applications. Find out what they are, where they are, and who mines them.




Coal research in Pennsylvania

Coal Miner and CBM Well


Coalbed Methane (CBM)

This historical mining hazard has earned a place in the energy mix today. Find out how, why, and where here.


Economic resources are naturally occurring earth materials that are in demand for one or more specific uses. Economic resources include not only rocks and minerals, but also materials associated with them as a result of the geologic conditions under which the rocks and minerals formed. For this reason, the nature and distribution of economic resources are necessarily related to the geologic history of an area. Pennsylvania has a rich and diverse geologic history, and as a result, a wealth of economic resources. The Commonwealth has many economic resources, some of which satisfy our need for fuel (like coal, oil, and gas) and others that have satisfied the needs of construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries, past and present,  (such as metals, aggregate, brick, and cement).

Pennsylvania’s economic resources were being used long before the modern era. In fact, the search for and mining of these resources occurred as early as 11,000 years ago, when Native Americans harvested metamorphic rocks in Adams and Franklin Counties to make hammers and other tools. Native Americans also utilized crude oil found in seeps along Oil Creek in Crawford and Venango Counties for medicinal purposes over 500 years ago. By the late 1600’s, Quaker settlers were using local shales and clays to make bricks to build their homes. During the 1700’s, the mining of iron, lead, copper, and other metal ores met the needs of a burgeoning colonial society, which required cannons and ammunition, not to mention nails, stoves, and other household items. The mining of Pennsylvania coal dates back to at least 1761, and completion of Drake’s oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859 spawned the modern petroleum industry. These economic resources have proven to be particularly valuable sources of fuel, even to the present day. In the 1950’s, uranium and thorium were mined in Pennsylvania as potential source materials to build nuclear weapons. And although originally considered a nuisance in the early 1900’s, methane produced as a by-product of coal mining activities is now being researched as a promising fuel source for the future. Certainly, history shows us that both necessity and convenience have a role to play in the utilization of economic resources.

The future of Pennsylvania’s economic resources remains bright. The fact is that modern society relies on certain materials that only come from the earth. Several things contribute to the Commonwealth’s promising future, including our oil, gas, coal and mineral reserves; advancements in technology used to harvest these resources; and development of new and alternative uses for the state’s economic resources.