U.S. mines produced approximately $82.3 billion in minerals in 2020 – about $1.5 billion lower than the 2019 revised total of $83.7 billion – the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced. The estimated value of U.S. production of industrial minerals in 2020 was $54.6 billion, about 4% less than that of 2019.
This information comes from the 26th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center (NMIC), which was published Feb. 1.
In 2020, industrial sand and gravel valued at about $3.2 billion was produced by about 180 companies from about 280 operations in 34 states. The value of production of industrial sand and gravel in 2020 decreased by 40% compared with that of the previous year, owing primarily to reduced demand for hydraulic-fracturing sand and metallurgical uses.
Demand declined as a result of restrictions put in place in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ongoing weak demand from the oil and gas sector. Leading producing states were Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisiana and Iowa, in descending order of tonnage produced.
Combined production from these states accounted for about 81% of total domestic sales and use. About 58% of the U.S. tonnage was used as hydraulic-fracturing sand and well-packing and cementing sand; as glassmaking sand and as other whole-grain silica, 12% each; as foundry sand, 4%; as ceramics, whole-grain fillers for building products, and recreational sand, 3% each; and as other ground silica, 2%. Abrasives, chemicals, fillers, filtration sand, metallurgical flux, roofing granules, silica gravel, and traction sand, combined, accounted for the remaining 3% of industrial sand and gravel end uses.
U.S. apparent consumption of industrial sand and gravel was estimated to be 68 million tons in 2020, a 38% decrease from that of the previous year. The primary causes of the decline were decreased natural gas and petroleum well drilling in North America and oil well completion activity.
These decreases were exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which resulted in a significant decline in consumption of petroleum products, which in turn prompted a decrease in demand for hydraulic-fracturing sand in 2020 compared with that of the previous year. Imports of industrial sand and gravel in 2020 were about 380,000 tons – slightly less than those of 2019.
Imports of silica are generally of two types – small shipments of very high-purity silica or a few large shipments of lower grade silica shipped only under special circumstances (for example, very low freight rates). The United States remained a net exporter of industrial sand and gravel, although U.S. exports of industrial sand and gravel decreased by 34% in 2020 compared with those of 2019, also a result of the global pandemic.
The United States was the world’s leading producer and consumer of industrial sand and gravel based on estimated world production figures.