Arizona Geological Survey: Industrial Minerals

Sand, gravel and stone are the backbone of America’s mineral industry.

Def. industrial minerals – naturally occurring, inorganic, non-metallic-appearing rocks and minerals that enter into commerce, e.g., sand, crushed stone, zeolites.

Gold glitters! But in Arizona, it’s the industrial minerals that shine – to the tune of $450 million in 2017 (Source: USGS Mineral Commodities 2018). If copper is the thoroughbred of the Arizona mineral industry, industrial minerals are surely the workhorse.

The sand, gravel, and broken and splintered rock that mantle Arizona basins – collectively referred to as aggregate — are a mineral bonanza.  Every building activity, from homes to skyscrapers, from roads to bridges, and from dams to power plants require these natural stone and mineral products.

Of the more than 300 active mines in Arizona in 2016, most involve quarrying industrial minerals. And as frequently as not, it’s the geologic maps and reports of the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) that sheds first light on these valuable rock products. Exploration geologists pore over our surficial geologic maps for evidence of economic mineral deposits. (Check out some of our publications below.)

In no particular order, Arizona’s industrial minerals include: limestone, dolostone, sand, specialty sands, gravel, clays, bentonite, pumice & pumicite, perlite, diatomite, kyanite, zeolites, peridot, salt, potash, quartz sands, gypsum, talc, and crushed stone – marble, granite, quartzite, basalt and cinders, among others.

Products manufactured with Arizona’s industrial minerals are legion: concrete, brick, veneer stone, glass & ceramics, tiles, putty & caulking, toothpaste, jewelry – from semi-precious stones-, kitty litter, roofing shingles,  planes, trains & automobiles, asphalt, plastics, optical fibers, drilling fluids, wallboard, pencils & papers, just to name a few.

Science Topics
Advanced Manufacturing, Geology
Middle School, High School, College
6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, College, Adults

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