Mining operations in Virginia produced 53.7 million short tons of crushed stone in 2016 with an estimated market value of $825.5 million.
Crushed stone or aggregate can be any type of rock mechanically broken into smaller fragments. Crushed stone is an essential component for today’s construction industry. It is predominantly used in road construction and maintenance as fill, roadbed material, and in concrete and asphalt for road surfaces.
In Virginia, limestone, dolostone, sandstone, quartzite, granite, gneiss, basalt, greenstone, aplite, slate, and marble are all quarried for use as crushed stone. Some of Virginia’s limestone production is also processed for making cement and lime. Mine safety dust is also produced from limestone quarried in southwest Virginia. This dust is applied to the roof, walls and floor of coal mines to prevent explosions and to improve general visibility within the mines.
The economic downturn in the United States known as the Great Recession (late-2007 to 2009) had a significant impact on the production of construction aggregates in Virginia. In 2005, prior to the recession, Virginia ranked fifth in the nation in crushed stone output with 88.2 million tons (80 million metric tons) produced that year. The decline in annual production reported after 2005 may reflect early signals of decreasing market demand and the onset of the recessionary period that lasted through 2009. Crushed stone output reported in 2009 totaled 43.3 million short tons (39.3 million metric tons), down about 51 percent from 2005. Virginia dropped to ninth in the nation that year. Mine production in 2016 had still not recovered to pre-recession output levels and Virginia ranked tenth in the nation. On the bright side, the unit value per ton of construction aggregate in Virginia has steadily increased at a somewhat faster rate than post-recession mine output. This may be due to increasing demand for high-quality stone that has out-paced supply. Since transportation costs are a significant economic factor in the marketable geographic range of construction aggregates beyond the mine site to the end user, increasing unit values may also indicate opportunities for expanding the marketable range. High quality construction-grade resources must be carefully managed and conserved for the future as part of informed land use decision-making.
Crushed stone production and value
Lovett, J.A., 1994, Non-fuel mineral resources in the southwest Virginia coalfield region: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 131, p. 121-136. https://www.dmme.virginia.gov/commerce/ProductDetails.aspx?productID=2199
Willett, J.C., 2017, Stone (Crushed): U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries 2017, p. 156-157. https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/stone_crushed/index.html#mcs
Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, 1993, Geologic Map of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, scale 1:500,000.