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USGS Notes Sand and Gravel Update

The U.S. Geological Survey updated its Sand and Gravel chapter in its annual Mineral Commodity Summaries. 

In 2019, 970 million metric tons (Mt) of construction sand and gravel valued at $9.0 billion was produced by an estimated 3,870 companies operating 6,830 pits and 342 sales and distribution yards in 50 states.

Leading producing states were Texas, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, Ohio, New York, Utah and Colorado, in order of decreasing tonnage, which together accounted for about 55% of total output. 

According to the latest USGS quarterly commodity reports, the estimated output of construction sand and gravel produced and shipped for consumption in the fourth quarter of 2019 was 230 Mt, a slight decrease compared with that of the same period of 2018.

The estimated production for consumption of construction sand and gravel in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased from fourth quarter 2018 levels in only three of the nine geographic divisions. Production for consumption increased in 19 of the 42 states for which production estimates of construction sand and gravel were made. 

It is estimated that about 46% of construction sand and gravel was used as concrete aggregates; 21%, for road base and coverings and road stabilization; 13%, as construction fill; 12%, as asphaltic concrete aggregates and other bituminous mixtures; and 4%, for other miscellaneous uses. The remaining 4% was used for concrete products, filtration, golf course maintenance, plaster and gunite sands, railroad ballast, road stabilization, roofing granules, and snow and ice control.

Construction sand and gravel production was about 970 million tons in 2019, an increase of 4% compared with that of 2018. Apparent consumption also increased by 4% to 980 million tons. Demand for construction sand and gravel increased in 2019 because of continued growth in the private and public construction markets. 

Commercial and heavy-industrial construction activity, infrastructure funding, new single-family housing unit starts, and weather affect growth in sand and gravel production and consumption. Long-term increases in construction aggregates demand will be influenced by activity in the public and private construction sectors, as well as by construction work related to security measures being implemented around the nation. 

The underlying factors that would support a rise in prices of construction sand and gravel are expected to be present in 2020, especially in and near metropolitan areas.

The construction sand and gravel industry remained concerned with environmental, health, permitting, safety, and zoning regulations. Movement of sand and gravel operations away from densely populated regions was expected to continue where regulations and local sentiment discouraged them. Resultant regional shortages of construction sand and gravel would likely result in higher-than-average price increases in industrialized and urban areas.