Nonmetallic Construction Materials Industry

Nonmetallic Construction Materials Industry


an industry that combines enterprises whose main products are crushed stone, gravel, and sand, and also small quantities of quarrystone and sand-gravel mixture. Several individual enterprises also manufacture by-products, such as ground limestone for liming acidic soils and mineral powder for asphalt concrete. The nonmetallic construction materials industry ranks first in volume of production (in physical terms) among all branches of the mining industry in the USSR.

Products of the nonmetallic construction materials industry are used in the production of precast and cast reinforced concrete, in highway and railroad construction, and in industrial and civil-engineering construction. In 1973 nonmetallic construction materials accounted for 5.8 percent of the total estimated construction cost and more than 20 percent of the total cost of construction materials. The quality of nonmetallic construction materials significantly influences the consumption of cement used in construction and affects the strength of concrete.

Throughout the history of mankind, stone was used as a building material; however, stone quarrying was a primitive process. In 1913, in prerevolutionary Russia, there were 350–360 quarries, which periodically produced about 2 million cu m of non-metallic construction materials per year, primarily quarrystone and sand. Almost all work was done manually.

The first mechanized quarries in the USSR were built at construction sites of the Dnieper and Nizhniaia Svir’ hydroelectric power plants. From 1930 to 1940 a number of mechanized quarries were established at the sites of sand and gravel deposits. The establishment of the modern nonmetallic construction materials industry is associated with the extremely large scale of construction during the postwar period and with the industrialization of construction work. An important stage in the development of the industry was the establishment of large, fully mechanized Volgodonstroi and Kuibyshevgidrostroi quarrying complexes in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (for mining of rock and sand-gravel deposits). These quarries used excavators with a bucket capacity of 3 cu m, dump trucks with a capacity of 10 and 25 tons, and high-power crushers. Data on the production of nonmetallic construction materials are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Production of main nonmetallic construction materials in the USSR (cu m)
 Crushed stoneGravelSand
1932 ...............300,0001,000,0001,300,000
1940 ...............2,000,0006,000,0009,000,000
1950 ...............9,200,0008,000,00026,000,000
1960 ...............87,100,00068,100,000103,400,000
1970 ...............228,900,00072,600,000150,400,000
1972 ...............271,500,000177,100,000191,100,000

In 1972, the per capita production of nonmetallic construction materials in the USSR was 2.7 cu m; in the USA it was 4.3 cu m (1971). The USSR ranks second (after the USA) in the total volume of production of nonmetallic construction materials (as of 1973).

In the USSR in 1973 there were more than 6,000 enterprises and production establishments producing nonmetallic construction materials. Large mechanized enterprises have the highest total production volume. Among the largest establishments for production of crushed stone from igneous rock are the Gnivan’, Rovno, Cheliabinsk, Tok, and Zaporozh’e enterprises; for production of crushed stone from carbonaceous rock, the Sok, Zhiguli, Zhirnov, and Kovrov enterprises; for production of gravel and crushed stone (from gravel), the Viaz’ma enterprise and the Sychevka Concentration Combine. All of these enterprises operate on a high technological level, and many of them have introduced automated production processes.

The main trends in the development of the nonmetallic construction materials industry are the construction of new facilities, significant production increases in existing enterprises, organization of production associations, use of heavy-duty transportation and crushing equipment, use of cyclic-flow and flow-production technology, and improvements in technological treatment methods that result in improved product quality. The nonmetallic construction materials industry is also developing in other socialist countries, particularly Czechoslovakia and Rumania.

In capitalist countries the nonmetallic construction materials industry is most widely developed in the USA, where 1972 production of crushed stone was 466.4 million cu m; gravel, 518.4 million cu m; and sand, 203 million cu m.


Spravochnik po dobyche i pererabotke nerudnykh stroitel’nykh materia-lov. Edited by V. Ia. Valiuzhinich. Moscow, 1965.
Davidovich, A. P., I. B. Shlain, and M. P. Borisov-Rebrin. “Promyshlen-nost’ nerudnykh i nemetallorudnykh materialov.” In the collection Promyshlennost’stroitel’nykh materialov SSSR: 1917–1967. Moscow, 1967.