Aggregates are key to construction: Sand, gravel, and crushed stone are the first step in the construction process. They are used for making cement, concrete, and asphalt, as well as many other building materials. Without aggregates, construction can't commence.
California is the nation’s leading producer of construction aggregates.
Every Californian uses over 6 tons of construction aggregates annually. Statewide, that is a total of, on average, 240 million tons of annual production (based on 2004-2006).1
The aggregate and construction industries support 1.8 million jobs and California workers earned over $86 billion from aggregate and construction activities. Combined economic impact of the aggregate and construction industries in California is $230 billion, or 16% of all California industry output.2
Nationwide, about 43% of all construction aggregates are for public works projects paid by taxpayers. Applied to California in 2006, public agencies would have spent over $851 million for construction aggregates.3
California sand and gravel producers reclaim land to 44 different uses. The most common usage is conservation – open space, wildlife habitat, and wetlands – followed by recreation and agriculture. While the state has lost 91% of its wetlands since European settlement, California’s aggregate producers are creating or restoring thousands of acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat. During the 1990s, all types of reclamation statewide exceeded 33,000 acres, a size greater than the land area of the City and County of San Francisco.4
Transporting from shorter distances saves money. Most aggregates are transported by truck. The cost of trucking aggregates increases 15 cents per ton for every mile hauled. Given that even one mile of a six lane highway requires over 110,000 tons of aggregates, each mile of transport would add one-half million dollars to the base cost of the aggregates for such a project.5
Transporting from shorter distances protects the environment and reduces traffic. Caltrans estimates a current average hauling distance of 50 miles. If the trip length can be reduced by even 15 miles, then diesel fuel consumption can be reduced by 44 million gallons annually, and truck emissions by 835 tons per year. Traffic congestion would be reduced and an estimated $705 million per year would be saved on material transportation costs.6
Aggregate supplies for many California population centers are running out. A recent state study projecting 50-year demand indicates we may have only a 16 year supply at current rates of consumption. In particular, 4 areas of the state may have less than a 10 year supply, and 6 others may have less than 25% of their projected needs. These supply deficiencies will directly affect California's infrastructure and quality of life.7
Recycled concrete and asphalt help build sustainable communities. California’s aggregate producers are in the forefront for promoting the use of recycled construction materials. Many sand and gravel operators help keep these materials out of landfills by crushing millions of tons of used concrete and asphalt pavement into construction aggregates. Yet because recycled aggregates originate from demolished infrastructure, demand far exceeds supply.
Non-Fuel Minerals, 2006, California Geological Survey & Population of CA & US, 1940 to 2006, CA Dept. of Finance
The Importance of Aggregates and Construction to California’s Economy, Applied Development Economics & e concepts, 2004
The Economic and Budgetary Impact of Repealing the Percentage Depletion Deduction for Aggregates,Coopers & Lybrand, Feb. 1998 & Non-Fuel Minerals,CGS, 2006
Reclamation Survey: A Pilot Study on Reclamation Activities of CMAC Member Companies,e-concepts, Dec. 2001
Aggregate Availability in California,California Geological Survey, Feb. 2007
Construction Aggregate Supply Limitations: Estimates of Economic Impact, Caltrans, 2007
Aggregate Availability in California
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