Nonmetallic Minerals Services, Except Fuels

SIC 1481

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in the removal of overburden, strip mining, and other services for nonmetallic minerals, except fuels, for others on a contract or fee basis. Establishments primarily engaged in providing geophysical exploration services for metal mines are covered in SIC 1081: Metal Mining Services. Establishments primarily engaged in performing oil and gas field geological exploration services are covered in SIC 1382: Oil and Gas Field Exploration Services.

In addition to performing contracted strip mining and overburden removal, industry firms perform general non-testing drilling and blasting, miscellaneous mining services, and prospect and test drilling. Industry firms also offer geophysical exploration services, sink mine shafts, and drain and pump mines, all on a contract basis within the nonmetallic minerals mining industry. However, almost 60 percent of the industry's total receipts are derived from for-contract mineral services performed by firms classified as mining rather than mining services companies. The industry is highly fragmented and a majority of revenues are generated from firms too small to be canvassed by the Bureau of the Census. In the late 2000s, diversified mining giants Vulcan Materials and Martin Marietta Materials were among the largest contributors to the industry. Other drilling, mining, and consulting firms also populated the industry. For example, GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies Inc. of Brockton, Massachusetts, employed over 500 in 22 offices across the United States in 2010.

The U.S. nonmetallic minerals mining industry was traditionally considered highly capital intensive. Before a mining, firm could begin to consider establishing a mine at a site suggested as potentially viable by geological literature and maps, a complex range of activities had to be undertaken to ensure that a workable deposit of economically viable mineral existed at the location. Extensive exploratory and assessment activities were conducted; highly detailed maps were made of the prospective deposit; and costly and sophisticated equipment was brought in to test, dig, develop, work, and maintain the mining operation. Because most costs at a mine are fixed, an increase in the amount of ore that can be processed lowers the producer's total cost per ton. High-volume, highly efficient mineral extraction is thus crucial, and contractors in the mineral services industry play a key role in this process. Because small mining firms either did not have the capital resources to perform exploration and extraction activities or wished to restrict themselves to the operational side of mining, they turned to independent contractors who specialized in the techniques and technologies of mineral geophysics and mine engineering to perform a broad range of mining support activities.

Projects performed by these nonmetallic minerals service contractors prior to the actual working of a mine included analyzing the surface geology for outcroppings or other indications of the underlying mineral, and conducting geophysical surveying or mapping operations using aerial photography, satellite imagery, or seismic, gravitational, magnetic, electric, or other methods of geological analysis. Drilling or boring test shafts (usually with an electrical, gas-powered, or pneumatic diamond drill) helped determine if a "showing" of a desired mineral was actually and extensively located at the site. The extracted cores or "cuttings" from these tests were used to gauge the quality, subsurface shape and variation, depth of overburden (unwanted mineral, soil, or rock covering the deposit), geographical extent, and potential processability of the mineral at a deposit.

When the precise range and nature of the deposit was documented, nonmetallic minerals service firms might also be contracted to develop the mine by sinking shafts, boring mine tunnels, stripping and removing overburden, or blasting the deposit face with explosives to dislodge the mineral from underground, an open pit, or a shallow strip mine. Industry firms might also be retained to mine the mineral or to develop or maintain the mine.

For example, many mines suffered from accumulation of subsurface water, surface runoff, or water associated with the mining operation. Industry contractors were often hired to install the draining or pumping infrastructure to prevent water from entering the operation and clear the mine of existing water levels. This facet of the industry activity alone could necessitate the installation and operation of a drainage system so complex that computer planning software would be required to assess the viability of networks containing as many as 20 drainage pumps and 50 regulators, in addition to numerous line segments, valves, and fittings.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the nonmetallic minerals services industry benefited from advances in sensing, automation, and computer technology. New unmanned "walking machines" loaded with cameras, sensors, and measuring equipment have enabled researchers to explore inhospitable terrain remotely and may prove to have applications in the field of mineral exploration. Space age sensing and mapping technology have also enabled scientists to search for mineral deposits with much greater sensitivity and speed. The staggering growth in the power of computer microprocessors has also allowed scientists to collate and analyze enormous volumes of data about mineral structures, hazards, and resources that previously would have taken years to gather. Computer-controlled X-ray diffractometers can determine a mineral's structure within a matter of minutes. The rapid advances in laser range-finding technology, three-dimensional digital mapping software, computer-aided design programs, and data acquisition and processing systems promised to give the mineral services industry new opportunities to provide the mining industry with precise data about the volume of material extracted, scrap volumes, topographical features of a deposit, and a host of other factors.

Current Conditions

According to industry statistics, there were approximately 280 establishments primarily engaged in the removal of overburden, strip mining, and other services for nonmetallic minerals, except fuels, for others on a contract or fee basis in 2009, down from 355 in 2007. The industry employed an estimated 3,716 people who generated $284.3 million in annual revenues. The largest concentrations of firms located within this industry classification were located in California, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Arizona. Collectively, these states accounted for more than 55 percent of the industry total in market share of firms. Most nonmetallic minerals services firms were small operations with 88 percent employing fewer than 50 employees and over 60 percent of firms employing fewer than five workers.

There were an estimated 100 nonmetallic mineral services firms responsible for 35.7 percent in market share valued at $66.1 million and employing 1,084 workers in 2009. The nonmetallic minerals mine development sector included nonmetallic mine exploration and test boring for nonmetallic minerals. This sector accounted for a total of 114 firms, for a 40.7 percent market share. These firms generated revenues of $162.7 million in 2009 and employed 2,143 Other significant industry sectors such as mine and quarry services, overburden removal, mine pumping or draining, and mine pumping or draining combined for 66 firms, or 23.6 percent market share. These firms had 2009 revenues of $55.6 million and employed 489.

Mining services continued to expand and update their technology into the 2010s. Digital computer imaging, including 3D imaging, was on the forefront of mapping and mining services. In addition, mining companies continued to push forward with how best to integrate global information systems (GIS) into mining and mapping systems.

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News and information about Nonmetallic Minerals Services, Except Fuels

Monthly sector analysis.(Statistical Data Included)
Acquisitions Monthly; June 1, 2002; 700+ words
...06-May-02 Gas Ops (DM) - Oil, National government gas exploration services 14: MINING 1481: Nonmetallic minerals services, except fuels EHL Gruppe (GM) - CRH (UK) - Investment 140.78 02-May-02 Non-metallic mineral firm mining...
Wages and Salaries by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...13,224 11 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 2,326 12 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 48...and sanitary services 17,522 50...brokers, and service 7,563 58 Real...18,364 11 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Corporate Profits before Tax by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...extraction 4,900 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 1,012 11 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 11...and sanitary services 11,484 49...brokers, and service 1,317 59 Real...extraction 1,405 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Taxes on Corporate Income by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...542 1,651 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 228 113 11 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 4...and sanitary services 2,646 2...brokers, and service 420 302 59 Real...extraction 715 231 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Undistributed Corporate Profits by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...1,233 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 629 371 11 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 5...and sanitary services 591 1,295...brokers, and service 581 618 59 Real...5,712 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Corporate Profits after Tax by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...358 -246 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 784 605 11 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 7...and sanitary services 8,838 11...brokers, and service 897 935 59 Real...4,019 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Net Corporate Dividend Payments by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...797 987 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 155 234 11 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 1...and sanitary services 8,247 9...brokers, and service 316 317 59 Real...002 1,692 10 Nonmetallic minerals, except...
Full-Time and Part-Time Employees by Industry
Survey of Current Business; August 1, 2015; 700+ words
...extraction 254 239 11 Nonmetallic minerals, except fuels 564 699 12 Construction...Machinery, except electrical 1...and sanitary services 199 209 50 Wholesale...brokers, and service 1,282 1...extraction 244 196 11 Nonmetallic minerals, except...

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