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US aggregate production down y/y but picking up

World Cement,

Figures released by the US Geological Survey (USGS) show that the aggregates industry could be picking up.

Sand and gravel
In Q1 2008, sand and gravel consumption in the construction industry stood at 196 million t, rising to 291 million t in Q2 of the same year. The impact of the recession resulted in a significant drop in Q1 2009, when consumption was just 138 million t. However, the Q1 to Q2 jump was almost on par with that for 2008, with consumption reaching 230 million t – an encouraging sign for the industry. While H1 2009 figures are still some way behind H1 2008, perhaps the Q2 performance is an indication of the growth that is to come. In the past, the third quarter has proved to be another period of growth, while the winter quarters (Q1 and Q4) tend to be quieter in line with seasonal construction demand.

Stone, crushed
It has been a similar story for crushed stone, which has seen growth of 50% in Q2 2009 compared with Q1. According to USGS figures, consumption of this product jumped from 205 million t in Q1 to an estimated 308 million t in Q2. However, this is significantly less than the 383 million t sold or used in Q2 2008, and the first half of 2009 has seen a 20% decrease compared with H1 2008.

Gypsum has not recovered so well this year, actually recording an 11% drop from Q1 to Q2 and a 30% y/y decline in H1. USGS figures show the calcined production of gypsum was just 3.3 million t (estimated) in Q2 of this year compared with 4.7 million t in Q2 2008. However, the figures also show that gypsum saw a gradual decline in production throughout 2008, with Q1 2009 production in line with that of Q4 2008.


The cement industry’s Q2 figures for 2009 are not significantly higher than the seasonal low experienced in Q1 2008, at 17.7 million t. This is a drop of some 6.3 million t y/y, but shows growth from Q1 2009, which was weak at 13.1 million t. First half figures show a 26% fall in production compared with H1 2008.

It is doubtful whether stimulatory measures will have any significant impact on the cement industry in 2009, given that the more significant projects require time for planning and permitting. The Portland Cement Association has predicted the industry will see an overall decline of just over 20% this year, but a 10.7% increase in 2010.

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