Daily life would be impossible without mineral products.
Wherever you live, however you travel and whatever you do, the products from mineral extraction are playing an essential part that’s often taken for granted.
No other materials can compete with mineral products for their versatility, durability and availability. That’s why we have come to rely on these raw materials and the products derived from them, for every aspect of our lives. Today in Britain the average family indirectly creates the demand for a typical lorry load of (20 tonnes) of mineral products every year – including sand, gravel and crushed rock, along with cement, concrete and asphalt.
Whether you live in a house or an apartment the chances are that the vast majority of the materials used in the building are derived from mineral products:
Our towns, cities and national infrastructure (transport, utilities, etc) are made from aggregates, concrete, asphalt and other products derived from minerals. Even steel and glass can’t be made without essential minerals like limestone and high-purity silica sand. The relative ease, comfort, safety and security we enjoy in our everyday lives depends on a reliable supply of raw materials from the ground.
Approximately half of all mineral products used in Britain go to public sector projects from social housing, schools and hospitals to roads, railways and flood defences. The other half goes is used by the private sector for housing, retail and leisure facilities, commercial and industrial developments and essential energy and water infrastructure.
Here are examples of the volumes of mineral products required:
On average, around 200 tonnes of aggregates are required to build a typical family house
Your local supermarket would have needed 2,000 tonnes of concrete, while a large shopping centre can use over 100,000 tonnes of minerals.
An average 6-storey office block requires around 15,000 tonnes of concrete.
A large factory or distribution warehouse can easily consume 50,000 tonnes of mineral products.
A mile of motorway contains about 20,000 tonnes of aggregate, asphalt and concrete, while a bridge uses anything from a few hundred to tens of thousands of tonnes of material. The A14 in Cambridgeshire used 730,000 tonnes of asphalt.
An airport runway uses around 100,000 tonnes of aggregates, and that increases over ten-fold for the taxi ways and terminal buildings. The HS2 rail link will need an estimated 25 million tonnes of minerals.
Schools account for a huge percentage of the demand for mineral products with each school requiring an average of 15,000 tonnes of concrete.
The average community hospital would use more than 50,000 tonnes of mineral products.
Massive volumes of minerals go into power generation infrastructure. Every wind turbine needs a concrete base of up to 1,000 tonnes, while the new nuclear power station at Hinckley Point will require three million tonnes of minerals.
Mineral products, especially concrete, are essential for the infrastructure that contains, channels and processes the water we use and dispose of.
As well as keeping water in, minerals are essential for keeping water out to help manage rising sea levels and reduce flooding. Over 3 million tonnes of marine sand was used to protect Bacton Gas Terminal and the adjacent communities who live in North Norfolk from coast erosion.
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries.