SIC 1499

This category covers establishments that primarily mine, quarry, mill, or otherwise prepare nonmetallic minerals, except fuels. This industry includes shaping natural abrasive stones at the quarry. Establishments that primarily produce blast, grinding, or polishing sand are classified in SIC 1446: Industrial Sand, and those calcining gypsum are classified in SIC 3275: Gypsum Products.

NAICS Code(s)

212319 (Other Crushed and Broken Stone Mining and Quarrying)

212399 (All Other Non-Metallic Mineral Mining)

Some of the most economically significant minerals mined by industry firms included garnet, gemstones, graphite, gypsum, industrial diamonds, perlite, and quartz. Other minerals produced include asbestos, asphalt, burrstone, calcite, catlinite, corundum, cryolite, diatomite, emery, fill dirt, gilsonite, greensand, Iceland spar, meerschaum, mica, millstone, oilstone, ozokerite, peat, pipestone, pozzolana, pumice, pyrophyllite, rubbing stone, scoria, scythestone, vermiculite, whetstone, wollastonite, and wurtzilite.

Garnet was used primarily for industrial applications, particularly as an abrasive or as a filtration medium. Between 1999 and 2003, the United States shifted from a net exporter to a net importer of industrial garnet. Although consumption over this time period grew from 33.7 million metric tons to 58.9 million metric tons, production declined from 60.7 million metric tons to 38.7 million metric tons. Consequently, the United States became increasingly reliant on imports, which more than doubled between 1999 and 2003, growing from 12 million metric tons to 28.4 million metric tons. Australia accounted for 47 percent of U.S. imports; India, 35 percent; and China, 17 percent.

Three U.S. companies—two in New York and one in Idaho—produced garnet as of 2003. Production was valued at $3.9 million that year. The United States was the largest consumer of industrial garnet in the world, and garnet was used for air/water blasting media (35 percent); water jet cutting (30 percent), which used concentrated, high-pressure water jets for precision cutting of metals; water filtration (15 percent); abrasive powders (10 percent); and composite materials, fabrics, and fiberglass. Demand for industrial garnet was expected to remain strong through the early part of the twenty-first century, due partly to growing demand in blasting markets.

Minerals were defined as gemstones less by geological properties than by end use—any mineral or other material whose aesthetic qualities recommended it for decorative or ornamental uses could be called a gem stone. The terms precious and semiprecious described the relative economic value of gemstones and other minerals, and most gemstones fell into the precious stone category, including: jade, corundum (rubies and sapphires), diamond, quartz (including amethyst and agate), garnet, turquoise, and several stones not mined by industry firms.

U.S. production of natural gemstones was valued to be $10.9 million in 2003, down from a high of $17.2 million in 2000. Production declines were due in large part to decreased pearl and opal production, as well as to reduced domestic demand, the result of sluggish economic conditions. Though production of natural gem materials took place in every U.S. state, eight states produced 80 percent of the total output in 2003: Tennessee, Arizona, Oregon, California, Arkansas, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. The United States produced less than 1 percent of total global output; however, it was the largest market for gemstones in the world, accounting for about 33 percent of world demand. Gem stone diamond production in the United States was virtually nil in the late 1990s as the nation's only commercial diamond mine, Kelsey Lake in Colorado, had stopped production. Eventually, the Kelsey Lake mine was sold to Toronto-based Mc-Kenzie Bay International.

Graphite is a soft, carbon-based mineral that is classified into two general types: natural and synthetic. Natural graphite is further subdivided into three types: flake, high-crystalline, and amorphous. In 2003, natural graphite was used for refractory applications (25 percent), brake linings (13 percent), dressings and molds in foundry operations (9 percent), lubricants (8 percent), and miscellaneous uses such as steelmaking (45 percent). Graphite consumption in the United States increased from 24,000 metric tons to 32,000 metric tons between 2002 and 2003. The United States relied on imports from China (33 percent), Mexico (24 percent), Canada (21 percent) and Brazil (6 percent) for its natural graphite supply, since it was not mined domestically in 2003. The majority of amorphous graphite came from Mexico.

The United States was the largest producer and consumer of gypsum in the world, contributing 15.2 percent of world output in 2003. Of the estimated 16 million tons produced domestically, the majority was used for the manufacture of wallboard and plaster products. Gypsum was also used for cement production, agricultural applications, smelting, and glassmaking. Growth in the construction industry led to increased demand for wallboard in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The majority of crude gypsum was mined by three companies—USG Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003 due to asbestos litigation costs, National Gypsum Co., and Georgia-Pacific Corp.

Industrial diamonds were crystallized carbon of a quality and color unsuitable for decorative gem stone use. Industrial diamonds generally ranged from yellow-brown to black in color and because of their hardness, diamonds found applications in virtually every major manufacturing industry. The United States produced about 236 million carats in 2003, compared to 140 million carats in 1998, and was a leading producer of synthetic industrial

SIC 1499 Miscellaneous Nonmetallic Minerals, Except Fuels

diamonds. Du Pont Industrial Diamond Division and GE Superabrasives were the only two U.S. companies that produced synthetic industrial diamonds in 2003. The United States was also the leading consumer of industrial diamonds, and in 2001 consumption increased to a record high of 405 million carats, although this had declined to 398 million carats by 2003. Industrial diamonds were used by such U.S. industries as construction, computer chip production, mining services, transportation systems, and machinery production.

In 2003, domestic processed perlite production was 512,000 metric tons with a value of $19.2 million. Since the 1999 peak of 711,000 metric tons, perlite production had decreased steadily in the United States. Imports of perlite increased from 144,000 metric tons in 1999 to 240,000 in 2003, which helped to offset declining domestic production. Eight companies operating 10 mines in seven states in the West produced crude ore, with the majority of domestic production coming from New Mexico. Processed ore was produced at 63 facilities spanning 30 states. The primary uses of perlite in the early 2000s included building construction (64 percent), horticultural aggregate (13 percent), filter aids (9 percent), and fillers (9 percent).

Quartz was one of the most common minerals that found many industrial and decorative applications. Large flawless quartz crystals were used to make radio circuits, radar, television, telephone circuits, ultrasonic equipment, and quartz oscillator plates in electronic products; as prisms, wedges, and lenses in optical spectrographs, microscopes, and other optical instruments; and as an abrasive in glass and refractory brick production. Crystalline quartz, including clear quartz, rose quartz, and yellow quartz, was used for decorative carvings and semi-precious stones. Amethyst and agate were quartzes used as gemstones.

Most of the quartz crystal used in the manufacture of electronics goods were cultured quartz crystals as opposed to natural crystals. The United States stopped mining lascas, which was used to produce cultured quartz crystals, in late 1997; however, four domestic companies continued to produce cultured quartz crystals using imported, mostly from Brazil, and reserved lascas. The continued growth of the U.S. consumer electronics market was expected to keep demand for quartz crystal strong.

Further Reading

"Diamond, Industrial." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

"Garnet, Industrial." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

"Gemstones." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

"Graphite (Natural)." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

"Gypsum." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

"Perlite." Mineral Commodity Summaries. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, January 2004. Available from .

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