U.S. mines produced an estimated $75.2 billion of raw mineral materials in 2017 – a 6 percent increase over 2016 – the U.S. Geological Survey announced Wednesday, January 31, in its annual Mineral Commodity Summaries.
U.S. Mines Produced an Estimated $75.2 Billion in Minerals During 2017
The report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center is the earliest comprehensive source of 2017 mineral production data for the world. It includes statistics on more than 90 mineral commodities that are important to the U.S. economy and national security. It also identifies events, trends and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries. This report covers the full range of nonfuel minerals monitored by the center, not just critical minerals, which were described in the recent USGS Critical Mineral Resources publication; which was released in December of 2017.
“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 center’s director. “Industries – such as steel, aerospace, and electronics – processed nonfuel mineral materials and created an estimated $2.9 trillion in value-added products in 2017 or 15 percent of the total U.S. Gross Domestic Product.”
According to this year’s report, the United States continues to rely on foreign sources for some raw and processed mineral materials. In 2017, the country was 100 percent import-reliant on 21 mineral commodities including rare earths, manganese, niobium and vanadium. This number of 100 percent import-reliant minerals has increased from just 11 commodities in 1984.
The $75.2 billion in nonfuel mineral production by U.S. mines this year is made up of industrial minerals, including aggregates, and metals.
Thirteen mineral commodities produced in the United States were worth more than $1 billion each in 2017. The estimated value of U.S. industrial minerals production in 2017 was $48.9 billion, 3 percent more than that of 2016. Increased natural gas and oil production benefitted some of the industrial mineral sectors. However, slower construction activity resulted in stagnant production in industrial minerals used in construction.
U.S. metal mine production in 2017 was estimated at $26.3 billion and was 12 percent more than that of 2016. Supply concerns and increased investor activity resulted in higher prices in 2017 for most metals. However, despite higher metal prices, domestic production was lower than the previous year.
In 2017, 11 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. These states were, in descending order of value: Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Alaska, California, Minnesota, Florida, Utah, Missouri, Michigan and Wyoming.
Some other significant findings in the new report on domestic production include:
- Construction Sand and Gravel, Crushed Stone, and Dimension Stone: Construction-related industrial minerals remained essentially unchanged or saw slight decreases in production and demand in 2017. Much of this decline was due to weather events along the Gulf Coast and in the Southeast, mixed-to-slight growth in expenditures in residential and nonresidential sectors, and a slight decline in expenditures for public sector construction.
- Aluminum: U.S. production of primary aluminum decreased for the fifth consecutive year, declining by about 12 percent in 2017 to the lowest level since 1951. U.S. imports of aluminum increased by 16 percent in 2017.
- Rare Earths: The suspension of U.S. rare-earth mining in late 2015 continued throughout 2017. In Nebraska, one company commissioned an operation that produced separated rare earth oxides from recycled fluorescent light bulbs. The company planned to ramp up production to 18 tons per month using a proprietary technology.
- Gold: Two new gold mines opened in late 2016 and 2017; one in Nevada and one in South Carolina – this was the first gold mine east of the Mississippi River since 1999.
- Cobalt: Average annual cobalt prices more than doubled, owing to strong demand from consumers, limited availability of cobalt on the spot market, and an increase in metal purchases by investors.
- Lithium: Strong demand from consumers drove the average price of lithium up 61 percent in 2017 vs. 2016.
The USGS Mineral Resources Program delivers unbiased science and information to understand mineral resource potential, production, consumption and how minerals interact with the environment. The USGS National Minerals Information Center collects, analyzes and disseminates current information on the supply of and the demand for minerals and materials in the United States and about 180 other countries. This information is essential in planning for and mitigating impacts of potential disruptions to mineral commodity supply due to both natural hazard and man-made events.
The USGS report Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018 is available online. Hardcopies will be available later in the year from the Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents. For ordering information, please call (202) 512-1800 or (866) 512-1800 or go online.
For more information on this report and individual mineral commodities, please visit the USGS National Minerals Information Center. To keep up-to-date on USGS mineral research, follow us on Twitter or visit the Mineral Resources Program webpage.