Employment Security Department Labor Market & Economic Analysis Branch
The mineral industry in Washington includes establishments engaged in the extraction of minerals occurring naturally, including: solids, such as coal and ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. Other products classified under this sector include metals, stone and clay, sand and gravel, and chemical and mineral fertilizers. Mining includes quarrying, well operation, milling (e.g. crushing, washing, screening) and other preparation customarily performed at the mill site. This sector includes the entire range of activities associated with the exploitation of minerals: prospect and test drilling, exploration and development, removal of overburden, and services to support mine operations. Such activities may be conducted by companies operating mineral properties or by mining services firms.
Definition of Mining
In the United States, economic activity is classified for the purposes of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and presenting data on domestic industries. This report, as others in this set of industry profiles, is based on the U.S. government's Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. This classification system includes all sectors, from manufacturing and service industries to construction, agriculture and natural resources. The SIC system begins with ten major categories, or divisions: (1) agriculture, forestry, and fishing; (2) mining; (3) construction; (4) manufacturing; (5) transportation, communications and public utilities; (6) wholesale trade; (7) retail trade; (8) finance, insurance, and real estate; (9) services; and (10) public administration. These basic categories are, in turn, divided and subdivided into groups with twodigit, three-digit, and four-digit industry codes, where each additional digit indicates a greater degree of specificity. Mining is one of the SIC’s major categories and consists of four separate industries and twenty industry (three-digit) subsectors. Each of the roughly 26,100 mining establishments operating in the United States in 1997 was placed in one of these twenty industry subsectors. Mining operations are classified, by industry, on the basis of the principal mineral produced, or in the case of no production, on the basis of the principal mineral for which exploration or development work is in process. The four industries are: Metal mining (SIC 10)—includes establishments engaged in mining, developing, or exploring for metallic minerals (ores). These ores are valued chiefly for the metals contained or used as intermediate inputs in the production of other products. The ores included under this industry are: iron, copper, lead and zinc, gold and silver, ferroalloy ores (e.g., chromium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, tungsten), and miscellaneous metals (e.g., aluminum, antimony, bauxite, uranium, radium, titanium). Coal mining (SIC 12)—includes establishments primarily engaged in producing bituminous coal, anthracite, and lignite. Also included are establishments primarily engaged in performing coal mining services for others on a contract or fee basis. Oil and gas extraction (SIC 13)—includes establishments primarily engaged in producing crude petroleum and natural gas; extracting oil from oil sands and oil shale; producing natural gasoline and cycle condensate; and producing gas and hydrocarbon liquids from coal at the mine site. Types of activities included are exploration, drilling, oil and gas well operation and maintenance, the operation of natural gasoline and cycle plants, and the gasification, liquefaction, and pyrolysis of coal at the mine site. Also included are establishments engaged in providing oil and gas field services for others on a contract or fee basis. Mining and quarrying of nonmetallic minerals, except fuels (SIC 14)—includes establishments primarily engaged in mining or quarrying, developing mines, or exploring for nonmetallic minerals, except fuels. Also included are establishments engaged in providing the array of nonmetallic minerals services for others on a contract or fee basis. The nonmetallic minerals include dimension
stone; crushed and broken stone, including limestone, granite, and other; construction sand and gravel and industrial sand; clay, ceramic and refractory minerals; and chemical and fertilizer mineral mining, including potash, soda, borate, and phosphate rock.
Current Status of Mining in Washington
Like many natural resource-based industries, mining holds an integral part in Washington’s history. th Mining’s importance to the state’s economy, however, has declined in the second half of the 20 century. Mining employment and establishments have not kept pace with the overall growth in the Washington State economy. While overall employment in the state has more than tripled in 50 years, mining employment has remained relatively unchanged at around 3,400 workers. Mining employment declined during the 1950s and 1960s, but rebounded in the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1990s, employment in mining reached its post-World War II high with 3,700 workers. In 1998, employment for all mining in Washington stood at 3,250 workers. While mining employment has not grown relative to the state’s total, mining remains an important sector in parts of rural Washington. Figure 1 Washington Mining Establishments, 1981-1998 Source: Washington Employment Security Department
Number of establishments
250 200 150 100 50 0 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 N onmetallic mineral M etals Oil & gas Coal
Figure 2 Employment in Washington Mining, 1947-1998 Source: Washington Employment Security Department
Number of workers
1,000 1947 1950 1953 1956 1959 1962 1965 1968 1971 1974 1977 1980 1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998
In 1997, Washington ranked 26 among all states in the value of nonfuel mineral production. Washington’s 1997 total of $555.4 million represents about 1.45 percent of the nation’s total 0f $38.3 billion. The principal minerals of value in Washington include sand and gravel (construction), magnesium metal, cement (portland), crushed stone, and gold. Leading mineral production in Washington are sand and gravel (ranked fifth in the nation); gold (seventh in the nation); magnesium (second in the nation); and th th portland cement (12 in the nation). For fuel mineral production, Washington is ranked 15 in value of coal production, with 0.4 percent of the nation’s total. Coal production was valued at $117.1 million in 1997, with ninety percent produced for electricity production and the remainder for either industrial and institutional use or the foreign export market. Although Washington has major petroleum refining facilities, the state has no producing petroleum and/or natural gas fields. Most of Washington’s mining employment resides in the nonmetallic minerals industry. Approximately two-thirds of all mining employment is in nonmetallic mineral production, predominantly in sand & gravel pits and crushed stone quarries. Coal is the leading fuel mineral with gold and silver ores dominating metal mining.
Figure 3 Employment in Washington Mining, by Industry, 1981-1988 Source: Washington Employment Security Department
4,000 3,500 3,000
2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 N onmetallic mineral M etals Oil & gas Coal
Figure 4 Value of Mining Production in Washington, 1980-1997 Source: Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology & Earth Resources
Total value (millions of 1997 dollars)
$700 $600 $500 $400 $300 $200 $100 $0 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Sand & stone & gravel Coal Other non-fuel
Several industries in the Washington economy are dependent on inputs from the mining sector. Although the mining industry is small in relative size with 3,300 employees, employment in Washington industries most dependent upon mineral inputs totaled nearly 463,000 workers, or nearly one-fifth of the statewide employment in 1998.
Table 4 Washington Dependent Industries on Minerals Inputs, 1998 Sources: Washington State Input-Output Study, Washington Employment Security Department 1998 Sector Employment Agriculture Construction Food processing Pulp & paper Chemicals Petroleum Stone, glass, clay & concrete Primary metals Transportation equipment Utilities Total 91,700 133,800 40,000 16,000 5,900 2,100 9,400 11,900 127,400 15,400 453,600
Compared to the nation, the relative importance of mining to the Washington economy is low. Since the early 1980s, the index of specialization for Washington mining has remained well below 0.2 (an index of 1.0 signals the same importance of an industry for Washington as for the U.S.). Since 1986,however, mining’s relative importance has been trending upward, based in part on some new producing metal mines. Average covered wages for mining workers was $42,915 in 1998, among the highest in the state and 27 percent above the statewide nonfarm average of $33,922. In 1998, employee wages and salaries in all of the individual mining industries exceeded the statewide nonfarm average. Real wages and salaries (i.e., without inflation) in mining grew faster than the statewide average between 1981 and 1998. Substantial wage growth has occurred in metal mining; between 1981 and 1998, real wages and salaries increased by more than 5 percent per annum. Table 2 Real Average Wages for Washington Covered Mining Workers, 1981-1998 (1998 dollars) Sources: Washington Employment Security Department, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Sector 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997
Metal mining Coal mining Oil & gas extraction Nonmetallic mineral mining Total mining Manufacturing Services Statewide nonfarm $36,497 $35,540 $39,645 $46,145 $48,808 $48,797 $51,689 $65,380 $52,373 $50,486 $50,429 $48,962 $47,217 $48,543 $49,141 $49,154 $37,052 $35,281 $34,707 $32,864 $33,069 $32,985 $33,513 $34,304 $39,586 $39,319 $39,981 $40,582 $41,514 $41,304 $40,742 $42,398 $38,352 $37,909 $38,024 $37,876 $37,338 $37,667 $38,018 $38,942 $22,525 $21,216 $20,583 $21,493 $21,592 $23,948 $24,908 $26,490 $28,783 $27,789 $27,313 $27,304 $27,167 $27,928 $28,575 $29,046 $67,496 $53,001 $36,136 $44,474 $40,954 $30,653 $31,504
$71,095 $54,145 $34,088 $36,085 $42,915 $42,247 $35,244 $33,922
$36,266 $35,058 $33,318 $45,784 $46,066 $54,105 $47,116 $54,630 $178,739
In general, the distribution of hourly wages for mining is dissimilar to the state, with a pronounced disposition toward higher hourly wages. Forty percent of all workers in the mining industry earn $20 or more per hour, compared with 28 percent of all nonfarm workers in the state. For metal and coal miners, more than two-thirds and four-fifths earned more than $20 per hour, respectively. For nonmetallic mineral miners, about three-fourths earned between $10-20 per hour.
Figure 5 Hourly Wages for Washington Mining Workers, 1997 Source: Washington Employment Security Department
Share of total employment
30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% <$6 $6-$8 $8-$10 $10-$12 $12-$14 $14-$16 $16-$18 $18-$20 $20-$22 $22-$24 $24-$26 Hourly wage State M etals Coal Oil & Gas N onmetallic >$26
The labor force in the mining sector is dominated by operatives and laborers. Common mining occupations within this group are mining machine and equipment operators, and truck drivers. Administrative and clerical and managerial occupations are also important in the mining sector. Table 2 Occupational Profile of Mining Workers in Washington, 1998 and 2008 Source: Washington Employment Security Department Estimated 1998 Mining, SIC 10,12,13,14 Percent of Estimated Total Employment Employment
Managerial & administrative Professional, paraprofessional & technical Sales & related occupations Clerical & administrative support Service occupations Production, operating & maintenance Operators, helpers & laborers Undefined occupations TOTAL 236 171 23 314 10 774 1,664 218 3,410 6.9% 5.0% 0.7% 9.2% 0.3% 22.7% 48.8% 6.4% 100.0%
Projected 2008 Percent of Projected Total Employment Employment
262 184 26 361 10 812 1,842 222 3,719 7.0% 5.0% 0.7% 9.7% 0.3% 21.8% 49.5% 6.0% 100.0%
The mining sector has underperformed the state economy during this decade. Employment in mining declined at a 0.9 percent average annual pace since 1990, significantly less than total nonfarm employment (2.7 percent). Domestic end-use markets for minerals are expected to remain stable for the next twenty-five years. Commodity prices, however, have been unstable, tending toward decline. For the first decade of the forecast period (2000-2010), mining employment is expected to increase by only 0.5 percent per year, compared with average annual nonfarm employment growth of 3.1 percent. For the 2010-2020 period, no employment growth is projected for mining, while nonfarm employment is projected to grow by 0.8 percent per year. Virtually all the employment growth in mining is projected to occur within
the nonmetallic mineral industry—based on the increased demand for sand and gravel and crushed stone by its major end-use market of construction. Figure 6 Washington Mining Employment Forecast, 2000-2020 Sources: Washington Office of Financial Management, Washington Employment Security Department
4,000 3,500 3,000
2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 1995 2000 N onmetallic mineral mining 2005 M etal mining 2010 Coal mining 2015 Oil & gas extraction 2020