Annual Review of Non-Fuel Mineral Industry
Zak Lasemi and Don Mikulic of the Illinois State Geological Survey completed the annual review of Illinois' nonfuel mineral industry for the United States Geological Survey's Yearbook. In terms of value, industrial minerals continue to be Illinois' leading mineral resource commodity, surpassing coal and oil and gas. Economic analysis indicates that, because of their large impact on construction and transportation infrastructure, every dollar's worth of industrial minerals consumed in Illinois contributes directly and indirectly to $500 of Illinois' gross state product (GSP). Illinois continues to be among the top five states in the production of crushed stone. The state also has been a major producer and manufacturer of construction sand and gravel, industrial sand, and Portland cement. The combined values of crushed stone and sand-and-gravel aggregate materials continued to account for more than 60% of the value of Illinois' industrial minerals. The Silurian and Ordovician dolomite mined in and near Chicago in northeastern Illinois accounted for most of the total stone production in the state.
Road maintenance and improvement are major sources of demand for the state's crushed stone, sand and gravel, and cement. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois has the third largest network of state and local roads and the sixth largest interstate highway system in the country. The state also has more than 26,000 bridges, 8,227 of which are in the state highway system, which is heavily used. A significant number of bridges need repair or replacement, as do many stretches of the interstate highway system and many state and secondary highways and roads. Large amounts of crushed stone, sand and gravel, and cement are required to maintain interstates and major highways and to improve congested urban and rural highways.
Illinois' non-fuel mineral industries will be faced with several challenges in the coming years: obtaining adequate government funding for continued transportation infrastructure improvements, supplying sufficient high-calcium limestone to rapidly expanding flue gas desulfurization systems at coal-fired power plants, resolving the conflicting public demands for environmental protection and resource use, and dealing with increasing public opposition to mining. The repair and maintenance of the highway system and environmental remediation require local availability of high-quality aggregate and high-calcium limestone. With construction aggregate constituting approximately 80% of concrete pavement and more than 90% of asphalt, durable aggregate will continue to be in high demand throughout the state for years to come.