As a key binding agent in concrete and mortar, cement is extensively used in the United States construction industry in residential, non-residential, and public works building projects. As of 2021, there were 98 cement production facilities located across the country, including two located in Puerto Rico. Cement production in the U.S. amounted to an estimated 92 million metric tons in 2021. Texas, Missouri, California, and Florida were the leading states in terms of cement production in 2021, having accounted for almost 44 percent of U.S. cement produced that year.
To produce cement, a mixture of lime, silica, alumina, and other mineral ingredients are ground and heated at high temperatures to produce the intermediary product clinker. The production of clinker in the United States has risen consistently over the past decade. When the clinker material is ground and then mixed with gypsum, cement is produced. Concrete is made when cement is mixed with water and coarse aggregates like stone and gravel. In 2021, over 70 percent of the cement used in the United States was for ready-made concrete mixes.
Cement’s link to the U.S. economy
With the construction industry relying heavily on cement, trends in the consumption of the building material tend to resemble trends in the overall economy. For instance, the apparent consumption of cement in the United States has increased gradually over the past decade, though it is still well below levels seen before the 2008 financial crisis. This phenomenon can also be observed in U.S. cement prices. Prices decreased in the years following the economic downturn but have increased steadily as consumption has increased. Despite these developments in consumption and prices, employment in the U.S. cement industry has remained relatively stable over the years.
Major players in the U.S. cement industry
As the United States ranks among the world’s top cement producing countries, a multitude of cement companies operate throughout the country. Swiss-based LafargeHolcim operates 13 production plants and has a distribution network serving 43 states. HeidelbergCement, a German multinational, has been operating in the United States since its purchase of the Lehigh Cement Company in the 1970s, now known as Lehigh Hanson. Lehigh Hanson had 19 cement production plants in the U.S. as of 2021, making it the leading cement company in the U.S. based on the number of plants.
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