NR 2001-54
August 7, 2001

Contact: Carol Dahmen
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
Ed Wilson
(916) 323-1886


Construction Sand and Gravel is State's Leading Industrial Mineral

SACRAMENTO -- For the second consecutive year, California led the nation in the production of non-fuel minerals, most notably sand and gravel. The state's 1,000 active mines yielded minerals valued at $3.38 billion in 2000, according to statistics released by the Department of Conservation's Division of Mines and Geology and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Construction sand and gravel production increased by 13.6 million tons over 1999 and was valued at about $1 billion. Vulcan Materials Company/Western Division's Boulevard operation in Los Angeles County was the nation's largest sand and gravel operation. Portland cement was the state's second-largest industrial mineral; production totaled 12.1 million tons valued at about $865 million. Boron and crushed stone ranked 3-4, with values of $498 million and $403 million, respectively.

California was the nation's only producer of boron, rare earth concentrates, and asbestos, and continued to lead the nation in the production of sand and gravel, portland cement, diatomite, and natural sodium sulfate. California ranked third in the nation in gold production behind Nevada and Utah.

Other minerals produced in California include several types of clay, gemstones, gypsum, iron ore, lime, magnesium compounds, salt, silver, soda ash and talc.

Some 2000 mining highlights:

  • Teichert Aggregates continued its permitting process for a 720-acre aggregate site located about four miles north of Lincoln in Placer County. The project calls for the extraction of 37 million tons of construction alluvial sand and gravel and 122 million tons of crushed granite aggregate over a period of 85 years. The availability of resources near construction areas is crucial from a cost standpoint. For example, for every 30 miles aggregate has to travel, the cost doubles.

  • CEMEX, Inc. (formerly Transit Mix Concrete Company) continued its permitting process for the Soledad Canyon sand and gravel mining project in Los Angeles County. If approved, approximately 56 million tons of construction-grade aggregate material will be mined from a 460-acre site over a period of 20 years. The project will also include a concrete batch plant.

  • Robertson’s Ready Mix was awarded the contract to excavate three pits for the county owned Mid-Valley Sanitary Landfill expansion in Rialto (San Bernardino County). The excavated sand and gravel will be processed on site and sold for construction-grade aggregate. The landfill expansion will provide an estimated 80-100 million tons of aggregate reserves to the San Bernardino area over the 25-35 year life of the landfill.

  • Molycorp Inc.’s Mountain Pass rare earths mine in San Bernardino County got a temporary permit to mine bastnaesite ore for a three-month period starting in December 1999. The mined ore kept the plant in operation in a limited capacity through the year 2000. Molycorp is in the process of obtaining a permit to expand its operation. The Mountain Pass Mine is the only producer of rare earth minerals in the United States.

  • Newmont Gold Company's Mesquite Mine in Imperial County continued to lead the state in gold production for the year. Homestake's McLaughlin Mine (Napa, Lake, and Yolo counties) was No. 2, followed by Viceroy Gold Corporation's Castle Mountain Mine (San Bernardino County). Gold accounted for 4.6 percent of California's non-fuel mineral production, about $154.8 million. While the Gold Rush is long over, California’s gold production in the last 20 years amounted to $4.5 billion.

  • DOC's Division of Mines and Geology is developing a statewide aggregate resource and demand map that should be available this summer.