In 2015, United States mines produced an estimated $78.3 billion of mineral raw materials—down 3percent from $80.8 billion in 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey announced today in its Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016.
“Decision-makers and policy-makers in the private and public sectors rely on the Mineral Commodity Summaries and other USGS minerals information publications as unbiased sources of information to make business decisions and national policy,” said Steven M. Fortier, Director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.
This annual report from the USGS is the earliest comprehensive source of 2015 mineral production data for the world. It includes statistics on about 90 mineral commodities that are essential to the U.S. economy and national security, and addresses events, trends, and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries. Industries consuming such processed non-fuel mineral materials—such as cement, steel, brick, and fertilizer, et cetera—added $2.49 trillion or 14 percent to the total U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
In 2015, the U.S. was 100 percent import reliant on 19 mineral commodities, including rare earths, manganese, and bauxite, which are among a suite of materials often designated as “critical” or “strategic” because they are essential to the economy and their supply may be disrupted. Though the U.S. was also 100 percent import reliant on 19 mineral commodities in 2014, this number has risen from just 7 commodities in 1978.
“This dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals illustrates both the interdependency of the global community and a growing concern about the adequacy of mineral resources supplies for future generations. Will our children’s children have the resources they need to live the lives that we all want?” asked Larry Meinert, MRP program coordinator.
A reduction in construction activity began with the 2008-09 recession and continued through 2011. However, construction spending continued to increase in 2015—more than 10 percent compared to 2014, which benefitted the industrial minerals and aggregates sectors.
Production of 14 mineral commodities was worth more than $1 billion each in the United States in 2015, the same as in 2014. The estimated value of U.S. industrial minerals production in 2015 was $51.7 billion, 4 percent more than that of 2014.
Declining demand for metals—especially in China, reduced investment demand, and increase global inventories resulted in decreasing prices and production for most metals. In fact, several U.S. metal mines idled in 2015, including the only U.S. rare earth mine at Mountain Pass, California. Rare earths are vital components in modern technologies like smart phones, light-emitting-diode (LED) lights, and flat screen televisions, as well as clean energy and defense technologies.
The estimated value of U.S. metal mine production in 2015 was $26.6 billion, 15 percent less than that of 2014. These raw materials and domestically recycled materials were used to process mineral materials worth $630 billion, a 4 percent decrease from $659 billion in 2014.
In 2015, 14 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. These states were, in descending order of value—Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Alaska, Utah, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming, and Illinois. Wisconsin and Illinois are new to the list in 2015.
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 2016 is available online (http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals). 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 (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).
For more information on this report and individual mineral commodities, please visit the USGS National Minerals Information Center (http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals). To keep up-to-date on USGS mineral research, follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/usgsminerals).