Agency tracks 8 percent sand & gravel shipment gain, future supply concerns

Sources: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Rock Products Magazine; CP staff

Construction aggregates production in 2014 reached an estimated 2.17 billion metric tons, valued at $19.8 billion and besting the prior year volume by more than 7 percent, according to the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2015 report.

Last year’s shipments include an estimated 911 million metric tons of construction sand & gravel, an 8 percent jump over 2013 figures. Valued at $7 billion, the sand & gravel tonnage was derived from 6,600 operations under 4,100 producers and government agencies. Leading states for production were Texas, California, Minnesota, Washington, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Ohio—combining for about 55 percent of total industry output. USGS estimates about 44 percent of construction sand & gravel, or 400 million mt, was used as concrete aggregates.

“The construction sand and gravel industry remained concerned with environmental, health, permitting, safety, and zoning regulations,” notes USGS Construction Sand and Gravel Commodity Specialist Shawnna Bennett. “Movement of sand and gravel operations away from densely populated regions [is] expected to continue, driven by regulations and local sentiment. Resultant regional shortages could thus result in higher-than-average price increases in industrialized and urban areas.”

USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries pegs 2014 crushed stone shipments at 1.26 billion tons, valued upward of $13 billion and representing a 7 percent gain from prior year volume. Product was sourced from 1,550 operators running 4,000 quarries, 91 underground mines and 210 sales/distribution yards. Primary grades in last year’s output are limestone and dolomite, 69 percent; granite, 14 percent; and, traprock, 7 percent. Leading states for production were Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia—combining for more than half of total crushed stone output.

“With significantly stronger construction activity across the country in 2014, recovery in the private sector and residential construction experiencing a level of growth not seen since late 2005, consumption of construction aggregates is likely to continue to increase,” says USGS Crushed Stone Commodity Specialist Jason Willett.

“It is expected that the increased consumption in 2014 from that in 2013 will reach or exceed the historical annual average of the past 50 years, which was a 2 to 4 percent increase per year. The underlying factors that would support a rise in prices of crushed stone are expected to be present in 2014, especially in and near metropolitan areas.”