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U.S. Lime Production Fell in 2015

In 2015, an estimated 19 million tons (21 million short tons) of quicklime and hydrate was produced (excluding commercial hydrators), valued at about $2.2 billion, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

That is down from the 19.5 million tons produced in 2014. In 2015, domestic lime production was expected to decrease slightly, owing to decreased consumption by the U.S. nonferrous metallurgical industries (primarily copper) and steel industries.

At year-end, 31 companies were producing lime, which included 20 companies with commercial sales and 11 companies that produced lime strictly for internal use (for example, sugar companies).

These companies had 77 primary lime plants (plants operating lime kilns) in 29 States and Puerto Rico.

The four leading U.S. lime companies produced quicklime or hydrate in 24 states and accounted for 73 percent of U.S. lime production. Principal producing states were, in descending order of production, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.

Major markets for lime were, in descending order of consumption, steelmaking, flue gas desulfurization, construction, water treatment, mining, paper and pulp and precipitated calcium carbonate.

In steel production, quicklime is used as a flux and slagging agent to remove impurities, such as phosphorus, silica and sulfur. The steel industry accounted for about 30 percent of lime sold and used by domestic lime producers.