We depend on quarries to provide valuable resources for extraction — but their importance extends beyond just what we take out of them.
For a nation to be strong, it needs to have a strong infrastructure. In the physical sense, that translates to well-made buildings, roads, and civic structures. In the intangible sense, stable systems like a strong economy and political system must be firmly in place and thriving.
It’s rare for an industry to contribute directly to both of these facets of a nation’s infrastructure. But in the U.S., quarries do just that, providing the valuable resources needed to build the infrastructure that governs our modern way of life. Consequently, the quarry mining industry plays an enormous role in the country’s present economy. Let’s take a closer look at quarries to understand just how vital they are to the strength of the nation.
The construction industry is a huge part of the American economy, set to grow to $1.09 trillion in 2016, according to Pit & Quarry’s 2015/2016 State of the Industry review. This estimate represents the highest figure since 2008, just prior to the Great Recession, and a 7% growth year-over-year. What’s more, Timetric’s Construction Intelligence Center predicts that the U.S. construction industry will likely see this growth continue over the next five years. The center estimates that over this time period, the construction sector’s average annual growth will jump from 1.7% to 3.1%, totaling $1.1 trillion by 2019.
Behind all of this growth is the demand for the materials that make it possible: cement, asphalt, and proppants — all of which come from quarries. Thanks to research from The Freedonia Group, Pit & Quarry’s report comes complete with positive forecasts for the use of these construction implements in the coming years.
Demand for cement is set to rise 4.5% per year worldwide to 5.2 billion metric tons in 2019. In monetary terms, that represents 7% annual growth to $420 billion in 2019. And that’s hardly a surprise: made from limestone that’s taken directly from quarries, cement is used in just about every type of construction job.
In the U.S. alone, demand for asphalt will likely increase 3.3% per year to 26.8 million tons by 2019. According to the The Freedonia Group study, the growth in demand for asphalt will be driven by increases in construction expenditures and infrastructure maintenance projects, like the roadwork to come as a result of a recently signed highway funding bill, as The Hill reports. The study also predicts that demand for asphalt for paving applications will rise 3.1% annually to 19.6 million tons by 2019, again as a result of the improving economy and increasing demand for infrastructure maintenance projects.
Proppants, which are essential to the hydraulic fracturing process, as Coast to Coast Ceramics explains, will also experience an increase in demand over the next few years. Demand in the North American market as a whole is expected to increase 7.6% per year to 162 billion pounds by 2019, which the Freedonia Group study estimates will translate to about $8.2 billion in additional revenue for the industry.
Along with its contribution of essential materials for construction, the mining industry is a major player in the all-important job market. Mining is one of the rare industries poised to add jobs at a predictable rate over the next 20 years, according to Pit & Quarry. From the report: “Although there has been a decline in the number of mining and mineral engineering programs at U.S. colleges and universities, there continues to be a noticeable increase in the number of graduates in those programs. The industry demand for qualified graduates to enter the workforce will only intensify as vacancies are created with current professionals reaching retirement age.”
Keeping Quarries Going Strong
In order to keep these valuable operations on track to achieve the lofty estimations set forth by these reports, quarries across the country must run as efficiently and safely as possible. Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. offers quarry operators green solutions that keep production levels high, employees safe, and the surrounding environment healthy. Considering the vital role that quarries play in the American economy, we shouldn’t accept anything less.
(Main image credit: Thomas Nemeskeri/flickr)