Sand & gravel-tracking agency cites future supply concerns

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 U.S. Geological Survey 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. The crushed stone was sourced from 1,550 producers operating 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.”

Former Labor Secretary, Transportation Deputy Secretary joins Vulcan board

Elaine Chao, who headed the Department of Labor through President George W. Bush’s two terms (2001–2009), and Southern Co. chief Thomas Fanning have been elected Vulcan Materials Co. directors for an interim period; both will be among 2015 director nominees for election at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders in May.

“Elaine and Tom are highly accomplished individuals with outstanding track records. They bring unique expertise and experience to our Board [and] share Vulcan’s commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance,” says Chairman Don James.

The wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chao is the first American woman of Asian descent to hold a U.S. Cabinet position. Under her leadership, the Labor Department focused on improving workforce competitiveness, and achieved record results in protecting workers’ health, safety, wages, and retirement security. Prior to the Labor appointment, she held various leadership roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including U.S. Department of Transportation deputy secretary and Federal Maritime Commission chairman; United Way of America president and chief executive officer; Peace Corps director; plus, Bank of America and Citicorp executive posts.

Fanning is a 30-plus year veteran of Atlanta-based Southern Co., one of the country’s largest energy companies, serving as chairman, chief executive officer and president since 2010. He has guided development of a full portfolio of energy resources and strengthened the company’s culture of innovation and customer focus. Fanning chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Electric Subsector Coordinating Council, which serves as the principal liaison between the federal government and power sector to protect the electric grid from threats that could impact national security. He is also Edison Electric Institute vice chairman and a Business Roundtable member.