The transportation industry could soon see a benefit from the slowly improving economy. As domestic mineral production rises, more carriers may be needed to haul raw materials and ensure extracted natural resources get to their final destinations.
Mineral industry on the rise
The latest United States Geological Survey (USGS) revealed nonfuel mineral production jumped for the third consecutive year and has made major improvements since the 2011 numbers were released. According to the data, the value of the raw minerals produced at mines in 2012 was $76.5 billion, up from $74.8 billion the previous year. The report revealed mine production was worth more than $1 billion for 15 individual minerals in 2012, with gold, crushed stone, copper, cement and construction sand leading the pack as the most profitable. This indicates the market is improving and carriers could soon see an increase in demand for their services.
Not only could more drivers be needed to transport the raw materials themselves, they could also be necessary further down the supply chain, as the minerals are made into new products and distributed to the consumer market. The construction industry has also played a role, as a slow increase in housing starts and construction projects have led to a stronger demand for more minerals and mineral products.
"Minerals are the raw materials for construction, manufacturing, high technology, new industries, jobs and ultimately economic expansion," said Marcia McNutt, USGS director. "These summaries are where geology meets economics, to create the complex tapestry of variations in mineral production over time and space."
This jumpstart could increase the number of mining operators that need to hire transportation companies to haul minerals from a mining site, as well as lead more producers and manufacturers to enlist carriers to get their goods to other stages of production or the consumer market.
Coping with an increase in business could be a challenge
If mineral production continues to increase at this pace, it could have a significant impact on the general economy, as well as pose a huge benefit to transportation companies. However, the rough service and off-road exposure that trucks may be subject to in mine and quarry sites can take a toll on equipment.
Growing fleets that spend an increasing amount of time off paved roads are subjected to more tire hazards, suspension travel and stress, as well as more dust and debris than over-the-road trucks normally experience. These rougher-duty trucks are still subject to many of the same DOT inspection and vehicle maintenance and safety standards when they travel on major highways. To minimize negative DOT inspections as well as the potential for breakdowns and unscheduled repairs, fleets can benefit from implementing fleet maintenance software to manage preventive maintenance schedules, track and address problems uncovered during driver vehicle inspections and manage parts inventory more cost-effectively while assuring replacement parts are on hand when needed.