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USGS: Mineral Production Increased in 2012

In 2012, the estimated value of mineral production increased in the United States for the third consecutive year, according to USGS. Production and prices increased for most industrial mineral commodities mined in the United States, but production and prices for nearly all metals declined.

Minerals remained fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels, including mining, processing, and manufacturing finished products. Minerals’ contribution to the GDP increased for the second consecutive year.

After continued decline following the 2008 - 2009 recession, the construction industry began to show signs of improvement during 2012, with increased production and consumption of cement, construction sand and gravel, and gypsum, mineral commodities that are used almost exclusively in construction. Crushed stone production, however, continued to decline.

The nonmetallic mineral products industry was boosted by the rebound in construction activity in 2012, with more than half of its output going to the construction sector. The recovery in the U.S. housing industry is fueling demand for industrial minerals and products. The nonmetallic mineral products leading index growth rate ended 2012 indicating that the nonmetallic mineral products industry is poised for a recovery in 2013.

Following a steep decline to -20 percent in early 2009, the leading index shows the growth of primary metals increased to almost 20 percent in late 2009. Since then, the index has steadily decreased. At the end of 2012, the growth rate was -2 percent. The primary metals industry was supported by modest metals demand generated from the manufacturing and construction sectors. This is likely to continue into 2013.

Mine production of 15 mineral commodities was worth more than $1 billion each in the United States in 2012. These were, in decreasing order of value, gold, crushed stone, copper, cement, construction sand and gravel, iron ore (shipped), molybdenum concentrates, phosphate rock, lime, industrial sand and gravel, soda ash, clays (all types), salt, zinc and silver.