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Minerals production

The National Minerals Information Center’s annual Mineral Commodity Summaries show that the value of U.S. industrial minerals was up in 2018, but domestic gold mine production was down.

Nevada was the top state in nonfuel mineral production in 2018, producing a total of $7.88 billion worth of nonfuel minerals, which is 9.58 percent of the U.S. total. Nevada’s principal commodities are copper, gold, lime, sand and gravel and silver. The principal nonfuel mineral commodity produced in many other states is cement.

The other top states in nonfuel mineral production in 2018 were Arizona, with total production worth $6.69 billion, which was 8.15 percent of the U.S. total; Texas, $6.03 billion, 7.34 percent; California, $4.56 billion, 5.54 percent; Minnesota, $4.05 billion, 4.93 percent; Florida, $3.55 billion, 4.32 percent; Alaska, $3.44 billion, 4.18 percent; Utah, $2.94 billion, 3.58 percent; Missouri, $2.93 billion, 3.57 percent; and Wisconsin, $2.73 billion, 3.32 percent.

In 2018, the estimated value of total nonfuel mineral production in the United States was $82.2 billion, a 3 percent increase from $79.7 billion in 2017.

The estimated value of U.S. industrial minerals production in 2018 was $56.3 billion, up about 7 percent from 2017. Of this total, the value of industrial minerals production was dominated by crushed stone, and construction sand and gravel was 45 percent or $25.3 billion.

U.S. metal mine production in 2018 was estimated at $25.9 billion, which was 4 percent less than 2017. Lower average metal prices and lower production of many metals contributed to the reduction in value for 2018. The principal contributors to the total value of metal mine production in 2018 were gold, copper, iron ore and zinc.

U.S. production of 13 mineral commodities were each valued at more than $1 billion in 2018. These were, in decreasing order of value: crushed stone, cement, construction sand and gravel, gold, copper, industrial sand and gravel, iron ore, zinc, lime, salt, phosphate rock, soda ash and clays (all types).

Metal mines

In 2018, domestic gold mine production was estimated to be about 210 tons, 11 percent less than in 2017, and the value was estimated to be about $8.6 billion. Gold was produced in 12 states at more than 40 lode mines, at several large placer mines in Alaska, and numerous smaller placer mines, mostly in Alaska and in the western states. The top 28 operations yielded more than 99 percent of the mined gold produced in the U.S.

The estimated domestic uses of gold, excluding gold bullion bars, were: jewelry 46 percent, electrical and electronics 40 percent, official coins 9 percent, and other 5 percent.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey report, the 11 percent decrease in domestic mine production in 2018 was attributed to decreases in production from the Cortez Mine in Nevada, the Cresson Mine in Colorado, the Fort Knox Mine in Alaska, and the Newmont mines in Nevada, and to the shutdown of the Kettle River-Buckhorn Mine in Washington in 2017.

In 2018, worldwide gold mine production was estimated to have increased slightly from 2017. New mine production in Canada and Russia and increased production from the Grasberg Mine in Indonesia more than offset decreased gold mine production in China, owing to increased environmental regulations, and in the United States.

In 2018, U.S. mines produced approximately 900 tons of silver with an estimated value of $440 million. Silver was produced at four silver mines and as a byproduct or coproduct from 38 domestic base- and precious-metal mines. Alaska continued as the country’s leading silver-producing state, followed by Nevada.

Domestic mine production of copper declined in 2018 primarily owing to reduced output from multiple mines in Arizona and New Mexico. These production decreases were partially offset by higher output from the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, where mining activity progressed into higher grade ores.

According to the USGS report, the United States continues to rely on foreign sources for some raw and processed mineral materials. In 2018, imports made up more than half of U.S. apparent consumption for 48 nonfuel mineral commodities, and the U.S. was 100 percent net import reliant for 18 of those.

For 2018, critical minerals comprised 14 of the 18 mineral commodities with 100 percent net import reliance, and 15 additional critical mineral commodities had a net import reliance greater than 50 percent of apparent consumption. The largest number of nonfuel mineral commodities were supplied to the U.S. from China, followed by Canada.

The $82.2 billion worth of nonfuel minerals produced by U.S. mines in 2018 is made up of industrial minerals, including natural aggregates and metals.

“The Mineral Commodity Summaries provide crucial, unbiased statistics that decision-makers and policy-makers in both the private and public sectors rely on to make business decisions and national policy,” said Steven M. Fortier, the director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center. “Industries – such as steel, aerospace and electronics – processed nonfuel mineral materials and created an estimated $3.02 trillion in value-added products in 2018, which is a 6 percent increase over 2017.”

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