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Aggregate production trending in right direction

By |  July 1, 2022
U.S. aggregate production was up 4.1 percent in the first quarter this year versus last year’s first quarter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Photo: P&Q Staff

U.S. aggregate production was up 4.1 percent in the first quarter this year versus last year’s first quarter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Photo: P&Q Staff

Aggregate producers across the U.S. are very busy these days. 

Some are setting records in terms of production, and they’re aiming high with their forecasts for the months and years to come.

“Our production demands have kind of skyrocketed over the last few years,” says Chris Taylor, business development manager at North American Mining. “We work for a variety of customers as contract miners. We’re seeing record forecasts for this year and beyond.”

The core construction markets that aggregate producers traditionally serve are fueling the volume increases. Producers say demand is currently healthy in the nonbuilding, nonresidential and residential markets. 

“As far as volume goes, we’re just as busy as we’ve always been,” says Cory Danner, president of Arcosa Aggregates. “Growth from 2021 to 2022 is probably in the low single digits. As far as end markets and what’s driving it? It’s everything.”

What the numbers say

Aggregate production continued on an upward path in 2021, with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reporting that both crushed stone and sand and gravel production volumes were up over 2020.

U.S. crushed stone production increased 2.7 percent last year to 1.5 billion tons, while sand and gravel production was up 2 percent to 980 million tons.

Crushed stone production was nearly at its highest level in 14 years in 2021, with production last surpassing the 1.5 billion-ton mark in 2007. Similarly, sand and gravel production was at a level last year that had not been achieved since 2008.

2021 crushed stone production

According to USGS, the 1.5 billion tons of crushed stone produced last year was valued at roughly $19 billion. About 1,400 companies operating 3,400 quarries and 180 sales and distribution yards contributed to the nation’s combined 2021 production total.

USGS says the top five crushed stone-producing states in 2021 were Texas, Missouri, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, California and Tennessee ranked sixth through 10th, respectively, according to USGS. The top 10 states accounted for 54 percent of the nation’s crushed stone output.

The majority (70 percent) of crushed stone produced in 2021 was limestone and dolomite. Granite (15 percent), traprock (6 percent) and miscellaneous stone (5 percent) represented sizable chunks of the remainder.

2021 sand and gravel production

Additionally, USGS says the 980 million tons of sand and gravel produced in 2021 are valued at $9.9 billion. More than 3,800 companies contributed to the nation’s sand and gravel output, operating 6,800 pits and 340 sales and distribution yards.

The top five sand and gravel-producing states last year were California, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota and Utah. Michigan, Washington, Ohio, Colorado and New York ranked sixth through 10th, according to USGS. The top 10 states accounted for about 53 percent of the nation’s sand and gravel output.

Nearly half (46 percent) of construction sand and gravel was used as portland cement concrete aggregates, USGS adds. Twenty-one percent was used for road base and coverings for road stabilization, with 13 percent for construction fill. Twelve percent of sand and gravel was used for asphaltic concrete aggregate for other bituminous mixtures.

2022 trends

According to USGS, the estimated U.S. output of construction aggregates produced and shipped for consumption in the first quarter of 2022 was 476 million metric tons. That mark represents an increase of 4.1 percent versus the same period of 2021.

In crushed stone, USGS says an estimated 291 million metric tons were produced and shipped for consumption in the first quarter. That mark is an increase of 3.5 percent versus the first quarter of 2021.

Also, the estimated U.S. output of construction sand and gravel produced and shipped for consumption in the first quarter this year was 185 million metric tons. That tonnage is a 5.2 percent increase compared with last year’s first quarter.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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