2017 aggregate production analysis

By |  May 18, 2018

Production in crushed stone, sand and gravel were slightly down in 2017. Photo BY MEGAN SMALLEY

As the old adage goes, “a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

From an aggregate perspective, however, one could say, “an aggregate operation begins with a single stone.”

The premise itself may seem simplistic, but the process of producing aggregate is anything but. As aggregate demand varies year-to-year due to a number of factors, the question stands: Exactly how much crushed stone, sand and gravel is produced in the United States on a yearly basis? Let’s take a look at production in 2017 in comparison to recent years.

Crushed stone

Production of crushed stone was down slightly in 2017, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Production totaled 1.33 billion metric tons, which were valued at more than $15 billion. In 2016, crushed stone production reached 1.36 billion metric tons.

While overall production of crushed stone dipped in 2017, the average value per metric ton has increased by $1.51 – or 15.2 percent – since 2013.

Apparent consumption of crushed stone also dropped by a small margin in 2017, totaling 1.39 million metric tons, compared to 1.41 million in 2016.

According to USGS, demand for crushed stone was lower in 2017 because hurricanes affected states along the Gulf Coast and in the Southeast. Long-term increases in construction aggregate 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, USGS adds.

For 2017, an estimated 1,400 companies operating 3,700 quarries and 187 sales and distribution yards collectively produced the 1.33 billion metric tons of crushed stone. The top 10 states in terms of production were Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia and Indiana. Together, these states accounted for more than half of the total crushed stone output.

Of the total domestic crushed stone produced in 2017, about 70 percent was limestone and dolomite; 13 percent was granite; 6 percent was traprock; 5 percent was miscellaneous stone; 4 percent was sandstone and quartzite; and the remaining 2 percent was divided among marble, volcanic cinder and scoria, calcareous marl, slate and shell.

USGS estimates that of the 1.39 billion metric tons of crushed stone consumed in the United States last year, 76 percent was used as construction material, mostly for road construction and maintenance. Eleven percent was used for cement manufacturing; 7 percent for lime manufacturing; 4 percent for other chemical, special and miscellaneous uses and products; and 2 percent for agricultural uses.

Sand and gravel

Production of construction sand and gravel was also down slightly in 2017, according to USGS.

Production totaled 890 million metric tons, which were valued at more than $7.7 billion. In 2016, sand and gravel production reached 892 million metric tons.

Despite a slight dip in production of sand and gravel in 2017, the average value per metric ton has steadily increased in each of the last five years. The average price per metric ton in 2017 was $8.70, an increase of 94 cents – or 12.1 percent – from 2013 ($7.76).

Like crushed stone, demand for sand and gravel was lower than expected last year because states along the Gulf Coast and in the Southeast were hit by powerful hurricanes, which temporarily led to decreased demand and production in these areas, the agency says. According to USGS, about 3,600 companies operating 9,400 pits and 360 sales and distribution yards across the U.S. produced the 890 million metric tons achieved in 2017.

In terms of production, the leading states were California, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin and New York. Together, these 10 states accounted for about 52 percent of total output.

USGS estimates that about 44 percent of sand and gravel was used as concrete aggregate; 25 percent for road base, coverings and road stabilization; 13 percent as asphaltic concrete aggregate and other bituminous mixtures; 12 percent as construction fill; 1 percent each for concrete products such as blocks, bricks and pipes, plaster and gunite sands, and snow and ice control; and the remaining 3 percent for filtration, golf courses, railroad ballast, roofing granules and other miscellaneous uses.

Apparent consumption of sand and gravel again totaled about 900 million metric tons in 2017.

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