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U.S. Nonfuel Mineral Production Increases for Third Straight Year
Released: 2/7/2013 7:15:09 AM

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Nonfuel mineral production values increased in the United States for the third consecutive year, up $1.7 billion since 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey announced today in its Mineral Commodity Summaries 2013. 

The estimated value of mineral raw materials produced at mines in the United States in 2012 was $76.5 billion, a slight increase from $74.8 billion in 2011. Net exports of mineral raw materials and old scrap contributed an additional $21 billion to the U.S. economy.

The annual report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center is the earliest comprehensive source of 2012 mineral production data for the world. It includes statistics on about 90 mineral commodities essential to the U.S. economy and national security, and addresses events, trends, and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries.

"Minerals are the raw materials for construction, manufacturing, high technology, new industries, jobs, and ultimately economic expansion," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "These summaries are where Geology meets Economics, to create the complex tapestry of variations in mineral production over time and space."

The United States continues to rely on foreign sources for raw and processed mineral materials but, for the first time since 2002, the United States was not 100% import reliant for rare earths as rare earth mining resumed at Mountain Pass, California.

Minerals remained fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels, including mining, processing, and manufacturing finished products. Minerals' contribution to the GDP increased for the second consecutive year.

"Decision makers and policy makers in the private and public sectors rely on the Mineral Commodity Summaries and other USGS minerals information publications as consistent and unbiased sources of information to make business decisions and national policy," said John DeYoung, Director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

Production and prices increased for most industrial mineral commodities mined in the United States in 2012, but production and prices for nearly all metals declined. Industrial mineral commodities include things like limestone, silica, sand and gravel, and are used for industrial purposes like building and road construction, plastics, glass, and paper.

Domestic raw materials and domestically recycled materials were used to process mineral materials worth $704 billion. These mineral materials, including aluminum, brick, copper, fertilizers, and steel, and net imports of processed materials (worth about $27 billion) were, in turn, consumed by downstream industries with a value added of an estimated $2.4 trillion in 2012.

The construction industry began to show signs of improvement during 2012, with increased production and consumption of cement, construction sand and gravel, and gypsum, mineral commodities that are used almost exclusively in construction. Crushed stone production, however, continued to decline.

The nonmetallic mineral products industry was boosted by the rebound in construction activity in 2012, with more than half of its output going to the construction sector. The recovery in the U.S. housing industry is fueling demand for industrial minerals and products.

Mine production of 15 mineral commodities was worth more than $1 billion each in the United States in 2012. These were, in decreasing order of value, gold, crushed stone, copper, cement, construction sand and gravel, iron ore (shipped), molybdenum concentrates, phosphate rock, lime, industrial sand and gravel, soda ash, clays (all types), salt, zinc, and silver.

Eleven states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities in 2012. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. Nevada produced the largest value at $11.2 billion. The mineral production of these states accounted for 64 percent of the U.S. total output value.

The USGS Mineral Resources Program delivers unbiased science and information to understand mineral resource potential, production, consumption, and how minerals interact with the environment. The USGS National Minerals Information Center collects, analyzes, and disseminates current information on the supply of and the demand for minerals and materials in the United States and about 180 other countries.

The USGS report "Mineral Commodity Summaries 2013" is available online. Hardcopies will be available in February from the Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents. For ordering information, please call (202) 512-1800 or (866) 512-1800 or go online.

For more information on this report and individual mineral commodities, please visit the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

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