Today, thanks to the plentitude of technological advances that make our lives easier, many people are less aware than ever about the industries that support the foundation of our societies.
Despite this disconnect, the old saying; “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined,” still rings true in our modern times. Non-metallic and nonfuel minerals, classified as industrial minerals, are key components in processes or final products in every field of industry.
Industrial minerals truly are the building blocks of our economy. Farming, oil and gas production, pharmaceuticals, paper, plastics, ceramics, glass, beauty products, construction materials, and foundry castings all rely on various industrial minerals throughout their production processes.
In spite of the vital nature of these minerals, the average person is relatively unaware of the role minerals play in keeping our society running. The Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) is a trade association dedicated to representing this crucial sector of the mining industry, educating government officials and the public about the world of industrial minerals.
The IMA-NA was created to advance the interests of North American companies that mine or process the industrial minerals used throughout our manufacturing and agricultural industries. Established in 2002, IMA-NA rapidly grew from a few minerals to currently representing twelve distinct industrial minerals produced in North America. The Association represents not only industrial mineral companies, but also a robust community of associate members comprised of equipment manufacturers, transportation companies, and specialist consultants who support the industrial minerals industry on the whole. The entire mining industry is facing challenges in numerous areas, but most noticeably from regulatory agencies. As the voice of the industry, IMA-NA represents its members before the governments of both Canada and the United States.
Equipped with members’ technical and practical real-life expertise, IMA-NA is able to provide invaluable insights to legislators and regulators on the various issues that impact the industry.
Most recently IMA-NA and one of its constituent organizations, the National Industrial Sand Association (NISA), have been deeply involved with the ongoing U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) rulemaking to set occupational exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica.
As producers of industrial sand, NISA members produce a product that is essentially pure crystalline silica, making them the most experienced industrial stakeholder in this rulemaking. In this case, both NISA members and OSHA are committed to eliminating the adverse health effects associated with overexposures to respirable crystalline silica.
To that end, NISA created and implemented its Silicosis Prevention Program decades before the OSHA rulemaking. Commitment to the program is a requirement of membership in NISA, ensuring that members maintain a quality worker health protection program. However, noncompliance in other industrial settings is widespread.
Due to the success of the Silicosis Prevention Program in preventing new cases of silica-related disease, NISA proposed that OSHA adopt the principal elements of the program as the basis for its proposed regulation.
Rather than calling for the complete withdrawal of the rule, IMA-NA and NISA maintain a unique position among industry stakeholders by supporting a comprehensive OSHA crystalline silica standard based on compliance with the existing exposure limit, assured through mandatory exposure monitoring and medical surveillance.
“Silicosis is a completely preventable occupational disease,” maintains Mark Ellis, President of both IMA-NA and NISA. “NISA has succeeded in controlling occupational exposures to current exposure limits, which are protective if observed. Other employers can, and should, do likewise.”
OSHA’s proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica is just one example of the kind of issues that IMA-NA members are addressing proactively while managing their operations. Through collaboration among its member companies, IMA-NA addresses issues that affect not only their industry sector, but the overall economy and society at large.
“Don’t think that just because we represent industrial mineral producers, that everything we do inures solely to their benefit,” says Ellis. “National economies require a reliable supply of affordable industrial minerals in order to meet societal needs and sustain the lifestyles that we choose to live. Believe it or not, sometimes what’s good for mining can be good for all.”
The role of industrial minerals in our economy, society, and lifestyles cannot be overstated. In the United States, the average person will consume 48,000 pounds or 24 tons of industrial minerals over the course of a year through direct and indirect products and services.
The industrial minerals sector employs approximately 68,000 individuals and accounts for roughly $33.5 billion of the $232 billion value that mining adds to the U.S. economy on an annual basis. The need for representation and a united voice for IMA-NA’s members become increasingly vital as the average citizen’s awareness of the mining industry has decreased.
In the coming years, IMA-NA will continue to champion this crucial sector of the mining industry as it continues to support our next societal advancements.
For more information on the Industrial Minerals Association – North America visit their website: www.ima-na.org or give their offices a call at 202-457-0200.
The Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) is the representative voice of companies which extract and process a vital and beneficial group of raw materials known as industrial minerals. Industrial minerals are the ingredients for many of the products used in everyday life, and our companies and the people they employ are proud of their industry and the socially responsible methods they use to deliver these beneficial resources.
IMA-NA represents ball clay, barite, bentonite, borates, calcium carbonate, diatomite, feldspar, industrial sand, kaolin, magnesia, soda ash, talc and wollastonite.
Industrial minerals…Your world is made of them!
Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA)
1200 18th Street NW , Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20036
Phone – (202) 457-0200
Website – www.ima-na.org