Mining accounted for more than $260 billion in economic activity, according to the last U.S. Economic Census. The IEA (International Energy Agency) expects worldwide growth in coal consumption to average just 0.6 percent between 2015 and 2021 as developed countries continue to abandon the energy source and China’s consumption plateaus. That will offset growing demand among emerging nations, particularly in India and Southeast Asia.
The U.S. mining industry is built on the extraction and processing of solid minerals such as thermal and metallurgical coal, iron ore, copper, gold and zinc; as well as industrial minerals, such as potash, soda ash, sulfur, salt, clay, granite, marble and quartz. The mining of sand, crushed rock or gravel forms the base for road construction.
As an essential source of raw materials for steel-making and power utilities (coal), construction, chemicals, fertilizers, glass and electronics, the mining industry in the U.S. employs over 500,000 people directly.