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Friday, January 7, 2011

Mining Sand & Gravel

According to the USGS sand & gravel is one of the most accessible natural resources in the United States second only to crushed stone in value.  It has had an explosive growth rate since the beginning of the 20th century when relatively little was used.  Sand and gravel is mainly used in the construction industry in the form of construction sand & gravel mainly used in the production of concrete and in bituminous concrete (blacktop).

A sand & gravel mine

Annual production of sand & gravel in the United States today it ranks as second in tonnage in the non-fuel minerals after crushed stone.  It is the only mineral commodity that is produced in all fifty states.  In general the United States is self sufficient in the amount of sand & gravel that is produced annually by producing enough to meet all its domestic needs, and is a small net exporter mainly to places where sand & gravel is used to a certain extent in the areas along the borders with Canada and Mexico.
Demand for sand & gravel is mainly controlled by the level of construction activity that controls its demand.  In the United States the production of sand and gravel has grown significantly since the end of WW II with production in 1950 at 320 metric tons increasing to  approximately 900 million metric tons by 2000.  The level of production has dropped since that time.
Mining sand & gravel is mainly a clean operation in comparison to your local corner bakery although to many people it is unsightly.  This has led to a great misunderstanding on the part of the general public where the perception is that sand & gravel mining is harmful to the environment.  This has caused many sand & gravel deposits to be withdrawn from mining for demographic reasons that in many areas has caused shortages of sand & gravel to occur.
Sand & gravel is a product having a high in-place value that considering the present business conditions costs approximately 50 cents per ton mile.  The further it is necessary to transport the material the more it costs.  Sand & gravel that costs less then $2.00 to produce per ton is apt to cost more then $20.00 per ton delivered. 

This is a reclaimed sand & gravel mine note the conveyor belt in the background with piles od sand.

A great deal of the problem that was the cause of a special investigation by the governors of the Northeast States was brought about by the mistaken perception that sand & gravel mining was environmentally hazardous; it isn’t.  This misplaced perception has done nothing more then increase the cost of virtually all construction projects throughout the United States.

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