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First Look - January 2016


TOP NEWS
FAST Act Becomes Law

In a major victory for the aggregates industry, both chambers of Congress voted to approve, and President Obama signed, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act.

Boxley to Sell

Boxley Materials will sell its West Virginia cluster of facilities and is considering the sale of the company as well. Ab Boxley, president and CEO of the family-owned business, said that Boxley has a contract to sell its West Virginia quarries, concrete plants and a trucking company to Oldcastle Materials.

Graymont Plans Plant

Graymont announced that, following extensive public and First Nations consultations, it has filed a British Columbia Environmental Assessment application for a proposed lime plant and quarry operation to be constructed near Giscome, British Columbia, Canada, in the regional district of Fraser-Fort George.


MSHA WATCH

The Mine Safety and Health Administration highlighted some NSSGA members that have implemented innovative programs to boost compliance.

  • Hilltop Basic Resources arranged for workers to conduct safety audits of Hilltop facilities they do not work in, as workers unfamiliar with a facility may detect potential hazards that may be overlooked by others.
  • Lehigh Hanson created an off-site safety conference to which the company invited MSHA personnel. Essential safety information was then disseminated to all company employees in an MSHA district.
  • Martin Marietta’s “Guardian Angel” program encourages workers, regardless of position, to speak up if they witness an unsafe environment or activity and thus protect co-workers.
  • A Vulcan Materials Co. safety program tests how well employees conduct workplace exams by inserting “dummy” hazards into them.

USGS STATS

An estimated 697 million metric tons (Mt) of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the third quarter of 2015, an increase of 5 percent compared with that of the third quarter of 2014. “The estimated production for consumption in the first nine months of 2015 was 1.69 billion metric tons, an increase of 5 percent compared with that of the same period of 2014,” said USGS Crushed Stone Commodity Specialist Jason Willett.


ECONOMIC INDICATORS
  • The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced that construction spending during October 2015 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,107.4 billion, 1.0 percent (±1.8 percent) above the revised September estimate of $1,096.6 billion. The October figure is 13.0 percent (±2.5 percent) above the October 2014 estimate of $979.6 billion.
  • New construction starts in November fell 5 percent from the previous month, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline represented a partial pullback after the 13 percent increase reported for total construction in October, as nonresidential building lost some momentum following its improved October pace.
  • Nationwide housing starts rose 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.173 million units in November, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department.

ENERGY
  • WTI CRUDE OIL FUTURES PRICE: 12/23/2015: $37.50/bbl, up $1.98 from week earlier; down $19.62 from year earlier.
  • NATURAL GAS FUTURES PRICE: 12/23/2015: $1.983/mmBtu, up $0.193 from week earlier; down $1.188 from year earlier.
  • RETAIL HEATING OIL PRICES: 1/0/1900: $2.21 /gal, down $0.045 from week earlier; down $0.869 from year earlier.
  • CRUDE OIL INVENTORIES: 12/18/2015: 484.8 mmbbl, down 5.9 mmbbl from week earlier; up 97.6 mmbbl from year earlier.
  • WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION: 12/12/2015: 16.1 million tons, up 1 percent from week earlier; down 21.4 percent from year earlier.
    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration