AGS / Minerals / Industrial / Main
Any rock, mineral, or sediment of economic value – exclusive of metal ores, fossil fuels, and gemstones – is designated as an industrial or a nonmetallic rock/mineral. The two terms are synonymous. Although gemstones are usually excluded, they are listed here for convenience.
Human consumption of the industrial rocks and minerals greatly exceeds our consumption of metals – at a rate of about 16:1 by weight. The average consumer does not recognize the presence of an industrial mineral in the commodities he/she uses. Some of the industrial minerals are mined in large volumes in Arkansas and their value makes a significant contribution to the state's economy.
Industrial mineral resources include many common materials, such as rock (limestone, dolostone, and sandstone), gravel, sand, several varieties of clay, and uncommon materials, such as bromine brine, diamond, gypsum, novaculite, syenite, and tripoli. All of these resources are currently being mined in Arkansas.
Although accurate production data are not readily available, bromine brine, crushed stone (sandstone, limestone, dolostone, and syenite), sand, and gravel have been the most valuable industrial materials mined in recent years.
Unlike many metals, which can be recycled profitably, few of the industrial minerals can be reclaimed and reused. Glass, which is composed of silica sand, is an exception. Some materials made of industrial minerals can be salvaged and used for other purposes. Concrete is a widely used material in which sand, gravel, limestone or chalk, marl, and gypsum are the main ingredients. Demolished concrete structures are commonly reused as fill for other construction projects. Some industrial diamond is recycled from drill bits and cutting tools. There is a continuous search for new deposits of industrial rocks and minerals to replace deposits being depleted.
A problem faced by the producers of some industrial minerals is that large tonnages are required by users, coupled with low market prices per unit. Low prices result in transportation costs being a critical factor. In addition, expansion of suburbs around major markets and increasing environmental constraints have forced many operators to move to more distant sites, thereby increasing transportation costs and prices paid by consumers.
The value of non-fuel minerals produced in Arkansas in 2006, according to the US Geological Survey, was $913 million. Arkansas was 26th in US production of industrial minerals, which amounted to 1.34 % of the US total. The following minerals are ranked by value for 2006: bromine, crushed stone, Portland cement, construction sand and gravel, and lime.
To download the ADEQ Access 2000 database of all permitted operations in Arkansas click here.