Despite the fact that per capita income remains quite low, Lanzhou has been altered from a city characterized by poverty to the heart of a major industrial area. Gifted with vast natural resources including coal, gold, silver, zinc and nickel, Lanzhou also boasts hydropower and houses several major electricity-generating dams. Major industries include electronics and communications manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, fine chemical products, and food processing.
The capital of Gansu, Lanzhou sits at the centre of the province's petrochemical industry and has many factories involved in the petroleum processing industry. As a result of its dependence on heavy industries, the city’s residents have suffered serious health problems: cancer accounts for a quarter of all deaths in the city. Today, Lanzhou stands as one of the world’s most polluted cities. As such, the city’s economic development will depend on the shifting the economy towards its abundant natural resources.
Lanzhou's GDP grew 13.4% RMB156.4 billion in 2012.