October 11 2018
Economic Analysis,Manufacturing,Regional/County Profiles

Growth in the Capital Region’s Mining Industry

The Capital Region’s mining industry has become the area’s fastest-growing sector and the largest of its kind in the state in terms of jobs.

Mining Jobs

Averaging 959 employees in 2017, the eight-county region’s mining sector has grown by 40.6 percent over the past five years. During that time, employment in the region’s sector surpassed that of the Southern Tier’s, which up until 2016 had been the largest in New York, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of data from the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).

While small compared to its other sectors, the local mining industry has a nationally significant concentration of jobs. The five-county Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area’s nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying industry, which accounts for the majority of the MSA’s mining jobs, has a location quotient (LQ) of 2.52. An LQ of 1 equals the national average. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying industry LQ is the 12th highest among metros nationwide. In 2017, the MSA also has the seventh most nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying jobs, totaling 717, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS).


Supporting the industry’s job growth are 266 active mines throughout the eight-county region. That is the third greatest amount of active mines out of New York’s 10 economic development regions, trailing the North Country (387) and Southern Tier (348). More than three quarters of those Capital Region mines are sand and gravel. Regionwide, there are also several limestone, shale and granite mines as well as a handful of clay, sandstone, bluestone, dolostone, garnet, peat and stone, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


Some of these mines also support a thriving nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing industry, which uses sand and other minerals to make abrasives, such as sandpaper, asphalt roof shingles and garnet abrasives. The region’s nonmetallic mineral product manufacturers include:

•   Norlite Lightweight Aggregate, Cohoes: Manufacturers lightweight, porous ceramic material by expanding and vitrifying shale. The company has shale quarry in Cohoes.

•   Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Watervliet: Manufacturers industrial-grade sandpaper.

•   Barton International, Glens Falls: Manufacturers garnet abrasives.

The Capital Region’s nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing industry includes 81 payroll establishments and employed 1,817 in 2017. The industry’s average annual wage was $70,283, according to NYSDOL.


According to the Brookings Institution’s 2018 Export Monitor, the Capital Region’s nonmetallic minerals mining industry exported $13.4 million in 2017. Those exports directly supported 35 jobs. The region also exported $38.2 million in nonmetallic mineral products, which directly supported 105 jobs.


CEG Activities

•   CEG’s Business Growth Solutions unit can provide technical assistance to manufacturers in the nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing industry to help them operate more efficiently, tap new markets and grow in the region.

•   Through its ExporTech program, BGS can help develop plans for expanding their nonmetallic mineral product sales into foreign markets.

•   CEG can also leverage its relationships with Albany ports to help manufacturers export their nonmetallic mineral products.


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