U.S. mines produced approximately $82.3 billion in minerals in 2020 – about $1.5 billion lower than the 2019 revised total of $83.7 billion, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
This information comes from the 26th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center, which was released in late June. The report is a comprehensive source of 2020 mineral production data for the world and includes information on the domestic industry structure, government programs, tariffs and five-year salient statistics on more than 88 mineral commodities that are important to the U.S. economy and national security.
It also identifies events, trends and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries that impact production. This report covers about 90 nonfuel minerals monitored by the USGS.
“Decision-makers and leaders in both the private and public sectors rely on the crucial, unbiased statistics and data provided in the Mineral Commodity Summaries to make business decisions and determine national policy,” said NMIC director Steven M. Fortier. “Industries – such as steel, aerospace and electronics – that use nonfuel mineral materials created an estimated $3.03 trillion in value-added products in 2020, which represents a 3% decrease from that in 2019.”
According to this year’s report, the United States continues to significantly rely on foreign sources for many raw and processed minerals. In 2020, imports made up more than one-half of U.S consumption for 46 nonfuel mineral commodities, and the U.S. relied entirely on imports for 17 of those. A number of these imports are key materials for renewable energy generation and storage, and for infrastructure technologies.
In 2020, the USGS and its partners published a new methodology that evaluated the global supply of and U.S. demand for 52 mineral commodities from 2007 to 2016. Of the 35 minerals deemed critical to the economy and national security in 2018, the new methodology identified 23 mineral commodities, including cobalt, niobium, tungsten and certain others classified as “rare earth elements,” as posing the greatest supply risk for the U.S. manufacturing sector.
The U.S. relies entirely on imports for 17 mineral commodities, 14 of which are identified as critical minerals. Another 14 critical mineral commodities had a net import reliance greater than 50% of apparent consumption. Due to reduced industrial consumption as a result of COVID-19, net import reliance for many commodities was lower than in previous years. The largest number of nonfuel mineral commodities with a net import reliance of greater than 50% were supplied to the U.S. from China.
The $82.3 billion worth of nonfuel minerals produced by U.S. mines in 2020 is for all nonfuel mineral commodity production, including industrial minerals and natural aggregates as well as ferrous and nonferrous metals.
The estimated value of U.S. production of industrial minerals in 2020 was $54.6 billion, about 4% less than that of 2019. Of this total, the value of industrial minerals production was dominated by crushed stone and construction sand and gravel (construction aggregates) at $27 billion. Crushed stone was the leading nonfuel mineral commodity domestically produced in 2020, accounting for 22% of the total value of U.S. nonfuel mineral production.
U.S. metal mine production in 2020 was estimated to be $27.7 billion, 3% higher than that in 2019. The principal contributors to the total value of metal mine production in 2020 were gold (38%), copper (27%), iron ore (15%) and zinc (6%).
U.S. production of 12 mineral commodities was valued at more than $1 billion each in 2020. These were, in decreasing order of value: crushed stone, gold, cement, construction sand and gravel, copper, iron ore, industrial sand and gravel, salt, lime, phosphate rock, zinc and soda ash.
In 2020, 12 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. The states, ranked in descending order of production value, were: Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California, Minnesota, Florida, Alaska, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, Wyoming and Georgia.
Other findings in the report include:
Critical Minerals – Domestic production of rare-earth mineral concentrates (valuable minerals that have been largely separated from the waste minerals) increased by 10,000 metric tons in 2020 to 38,000 metric tons, making the U.S. the largest producer of rare-earth mineral concentrates outside of China for the second consecutive year.
COVID-19 Pandemic Impact – Commodities used by the oil and gas sector, steel industry and transportation industry were greatly affected in the second quarter of 2020. Although some recovery did occur in the later part of 2020, production for these commodities in 2020 was lower than that in 2019.
Increased prices for precious metals, such as gold, which reached a record high price of $2,060 per troy ounce in August, contributed to the increased value of metal production.
Recycled Materials – Domestically, $28 billion of metals and mineral products were recycled including products such as copper, gold, iron and steel scrap, and platinum-group metals to supply domestic consumption.