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What is aggregate?

Aggregates are all around us. Aggregate materials, such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone, are the most fundamental and indispensable component of our nation's physical infrastructure. They provide mass and strength to Portland cement concrete and bituminous pavements – a paved roadway is made up of approximately 95% aggregate. Just one mile of a four-lane highway contains 20,000 tons of rock and sand and a new home uses 120 tons of aggregate on average.

Why are aggregate resources important?

Every citizen of Minnesota unknowingly uses about 55 pounds of aggregate per day – or 10 tons per year – to maintain roads, develop infrastructure, and support construction projects and industrial applications. In Minnesota, about 25% of the aggregate consumed each year is used for construction or maintenance of the state's 134,000 miles of public roads, 25% for public works projects, airports, and public buildings, 25% for private residential construction, and 25% for commercial building projects and industrial applications such as concrete, asphalt, railroad ballast, agricultural limestone, and more.

Aggregate mining plays a vital role in the success of Minnesota’s economy. Over 50 million tons of aggregate are mined each year – a value exceeding $155 million. Industry trade associations estimate that 1,200 aggregate operations generate about 10,000 Minnesota jobs.

Where is aggregate found?

Aggregate resources are not uniformly distributed around the state. The location of an aggregate deposit depends on the geology of a specific area. When a resource has been identified, other factors, such as market demand and haul distance, determine whether a deposit can serve as an economic source of aggregate material.

Due to its weight, aggregates cannot be economically transported over long distances. For this reason, identifying a local aggregate source is important. Aggregate has been or is currently being mined in all of Minnesota’s counties and there are an estimated 6,500 gravel pits and quarries in the state.

Why is quartzite a valuable construction aggregate?

Besides being very hard, quartzite has almost no porosity, meaning that it absorbs little to no moisture. When moisture enters the pore structure of a highly absorptive aggregate, such as limestone, it becomes susceptible to breakdown due to freeze-thaw activity. In Minnesota, where freeze-thaw occurrences can be as high as 40 events per season, a non-absorptive aggregate such as quartzite, which is used in concrete or bituminous materials, will extend the life of pavements and minimize the life cycle cost of road construction.

What is the future outlook?

As the population grows, the consumption of aggregate materials also increases. Aggregate materials are a finite natural resource. Although once plentiful, aggregate sources are diminishing around the state from resource depletion as well as land use patterns which prohibit mining.

SDS

What is SDS?

  • SDS is Safety Data Sheet. It lets our employees know what chemicals they are working with and if they are hazardous.
  • Download Quartzite SDS
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