Gold and copper are usually the leading metals by value produced in the US. In 2008, thanks to low gold prices, the copper industry yielded ore worth half again the value of gold: $9.4 billion vs. $6.7 billion for gold. Copper depends sensitively on the building industry, and with the recession in 2009, its value fell to $6.2 billion while gold held relatively steady at $6.4 billion.
In 2010, the copper business was worth $8.4 billion and gold was at $8.9 billion, but with continuing increases in gold’s price, in 2011 gold was valued at $12.2 billion, surpassing copper’s record value of $10 billion.
Other 2011 commodity business values include iron ore at $6 billion (triple the 2009-2010 amount) and the titanium dioxide industry, at $3.8 billion, surpassing its 2008 rate of $3.7 billion for the first time.
The most valuable non-fuel mineral commodity produced in the U.S. has been crushed stone, holding steady in 2009-2011 at $11 billion, more valuable than gold, copper, or any other metal, but gold took the lead in 2011 for the first time in recent years.
Despite the surge in value for gold produced in the U.S., the nation went from a net exporter of gold to a net importer in 2010-2011, with about 38% of consumption imported. Much of this was raw ore for processing. Copper imports have been fairly steady for the past 5 years at about one-third of total consumption (35% of our copper was imported in 2011).