| This article originated from the Critical Issues Program authored by the American Geosciences Institute.
To learn more about AGI or the Critical Issues Program, visit http://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues.
Industrial minerals are non-metal and non-fuel mineral resources including, for example, crushed rock, gravel, clays, sand (silica), gypsum, bentonite, and barite. They are used in the construction of buildings and highways, in many industrial processes, and in a number of household products including toothpaste and sunscreen.
Why do industrial minerals matter?
For each resident of our country, we use more than 24,500 lbs. of industrial minerals per year in the United States. Sand, stone, and gravel make up more than half of that amount. The rest are clays, salts, and other non-metals. Industrial minerals are essential to thousands of everyday products including medicines, paint, ceramics, construction materials (from roofing to windows to insulation), ink, and paper coatings.
How does geoscience help inform decisions about industrial minerals?
Geoscientists locate industrial mineral deposits, help determine how to mine them economically, help protect water and minimize environmental around the mine, and help reclaim disturbed land after mining.
- Aggregate and the Environment, American Geosciences Institute
- An overview of aggregate minerals, their importance, where they come from, how they are processed for our use, the environmental concerns related to their mining and processing, how those concerns are addressed, and the policies and regulations designed to safeguard workers, neighbors, and the environment from the negative impacts of aggregate mining.
- “How many pounds of minerals are needed for each person in the United States per year?,” U.S. Geological Survey, http://www.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9783/2525