Crushed and Broken Granite

SIC 1423

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in mining or quarrying crushed and broken granite, including related rocks, such as gneiss, syenite, and diorite.

This industry is composed primarily of small independent operators, with a few large companies producing a significant percentage of total granite output. Approximately 162 companies operated 427 granite quarries in 35 states in the late 2000s, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's 2008 Mineral Yearbook, released in 2010. By tonnage produced, the leading states were Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and California. These five states accounted for about 73 percent of total U.S. production. According to preliminary figures, granite produced made up 14 percent, or 155 million tons, of total crushed stone production of 1.11 billion tons in 2009.

Crushed granite was a small but healthy segment of the U.S. crushed stone industry, accounting for approximately 14 percent of U.S. production in 2009. That year, the United States produced around 155 million tons, down from about 196 million tons in 2008. In general, granite production growth and prices exceeded the average for crushed stone in the early 2000s. As with most types of crushed stone, the majority of crushed granite is used as construction aggregate. Unlike worked, or dimension, stone for which the United States is heavily dependent on imports to meet consumption demands, U.S. producers supply almost all demands for crushed and broken stone. In 2009, compared to the 1.6 billion tons domestically produced, just 21 million tons of crushed stone were imported and one ton was exported.

Granite was discovered along the main coastline of the Southern Pacific Railroad by civil engineers as early as 1871. As track was laid throughout California, engineers discovered that granite was the perfect ballast material for railroad beds. With the inception of automated, steam-powered crushers, the mining and production of granite improved significantly. When crushed to powder, tiny fragments of separate substances can be picked out of granite. These secondary or compositional particles include quartz, feldspar, and mica. As the most common igneous rock in the earth's crust, granite has been mined for decades.

The introduction of giant, mobile primary crushers in mining operations at granite quarries unleashed enormous production and profit potential. Other recent technological innovations used in granite mining include conveyors that move rock from the primary crusher to wash plants and secondary crushers; state-of-the-art, computer-controlled automated trucks and rail car loading systems; and the complete control and monitoring of all quarry operations by large computer systems.

In 2007, granite accounted for 16 percent of the 1.44 billion tons of crushed stone produced. According to industry statistics, the crushed and broken stone industry reported more than $2.7 million in revenues for 2007 and 3,800 employees for 2008. Other sectors in the industry were small, including the quarrying of crushed and broken diorite and syenite.

In 2009, 14 percent of crushed stone produced was granite accounted for 14 percent, about 155 million tons. That year, the 11.1 billion tons of all crushed stone produced was valued at $11 billion. Overall, production fell by 23 percent and apparent consumption shrank by 22 percent. The decline in the industry was a reaction to a recessive economy that had stymied the U.S. credit system, thereby causing almost all construction, including new housing starts; commercial building; and federal, state, and local government capital projects to be suspended. Although the Obama administration pushed through several stimulus measures in 2009 that targeted monies directly to infrastructures such as improving roadways and bridges, many of the projects were not prepared to be up and running until some time in 2011. As a result, the U.S. Geology Survey reported in June 2010 that for the first quarter of 2010, production of crushed stone products in the United States was 11 percent lower than during the same period of the previous year. Industry insiders, however, anticipated at least some relief from the poor demand that had plagued the industry as the federal projects came on line.

In descending order of output, industry leaders of crushed and broken granite were Vulcan Materials, Martin Marietta, Lehigh Hanson, Oldcastle, and LaFarge. Together, they were responsible for 128 million tons (64 percent) of the U.S. granite production in 2008. Vulcan Materials, located in Birmingham, Alabama, had revenues of $2.7 billion in 2009, down from $3.6 billion in 2008, and employed 8,227. Martin Marietta, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, had 2009 sales of $1.7 billion, down from $2.1 billion in 2008, and employed about 4,450. The company operated 274 quarries in 27 states. Lehigh Hanson, located in Irving, Texas, reported $2.1 billion in sales in 2008 with 14,920 employees. Lehigh Hanson operated 129 quarries in 17 states.

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