Metals

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Metals are found in many different places around the world. Many natural Earth processes affect their distribution and abundance. Metals are essential to our economy and lifestyle, and the global demand for metals continues to rise.

Basics

A copper sample. (Oxidation coating has been removed). Image Credit: USGS

Metals occur in many different geologic settings around the world. If enough metal is concentrated in one place to be of economic value, it is called an ore deposit. Well-known metals include copper, iron, gold, aluminum, manganese, and platinum, but nearly all of the sixty or so metals in the periodic table have practical uses. Geoscientists know that different types of ore deposits occur in areas where particular types of geologic processes have taken place.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
U.S. Geological Survey
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute

Latest News

Bingham Copper Mine
(2016-11-30)
November 21, 2016 Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announced a plan to block mining development outside of Yellowstone National Park. Under this plan, 30,000 acres of public land north of Yellowstone is subject to a two-year restriction on mining claims while a permanent ban is considered....

Case Studies & Factsheets

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Pima County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on copper mining in Pima County, Arizona can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Greenlee County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on copper mining in Greenlee County, Arizona can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Elko and Eureka counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on gold mining in Nevada's Elko and Eureka counties can be found...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Humboldt and Lander counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on gold mining in Nevada's Humboldt and Lander counties can be found...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the St. Louis County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on iron mining in St. Louis County, Minnesota can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Marquette County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on iron mining in Marquette County, Michigan can be found here. The...

Fig. 1. Gold, 3.3 cm high, Round Mountain Mine, Nye County, Nevada. L. McMaster collection. Credit: J. Scovil

Defining the Problem The western states contain many gold deposits (Fig. 1), and a zone of faulted sedimentary and igneous rocks in northeastern Nevada, known as the “Carlin” trend, is the most productive region in the country. Since the 1961 discovery of the Carlin deposit and the subsequent...

GOLI Online Courses

GOLI Course: Best Practices in Mineral Resource Estimation & Reporting. Image courtesy of Abani Samal
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Construction of a computerized model to estimate mineral resources is a common practice in mineral exploration projects and mining operations. Many times a technical report is done as per international reporting standards such as NI-43-101 or JORC to meet the requirement of certain stock...

GOLI Course: Tracking the Supply of Critical Materials; Image courtesy of Nedal Nassar.
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

No country in the world produces all of the mineral resources necessary for modern society. International trade plays a critical role in providing these raw materials, forming a global network of production, export, import, and use. This network must continuously adapt to national and...

Research Database Publications

Cover of USGS MCS 2010; Source: USGS
2010, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The widespread effects of the struggling domestic economy were evident in the decreased performance of the U.S. minerals sector in 2009. Although minerals remained fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels, including mining, processing...
Cover of USGS MCS 2001; Source: USGS
2001, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The longest economic expansion in U.S. history continued in 2000 and provided a stimulus for mineral materials demand. Economic growth, however, began to slow in the latter half of the year and was further dampened by higher energy costs and rising interest rates (U.S. Geological Survey, 2000, 2001...
Metal Mining and the Environment, AGI
1999, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
The booklet, Metal Mining and the Environment, and the colorful companion poster offer new tools for raising awareness and understanding of the impact and issues surrounding metal mining and the environment. The 64-page full-color booklet contains a copy of the poster which includes a student...
Fig. 1. Gold, 3.3 cm high, Round Mountain Mine, Nye County, Nevada. L. McMaster collection. Credit: J. Scovil
2004, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Geologic maps have provided the key to finding new gold deposits in Nevada.
Cover of WSGS PIC46 ; Image credit: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2016, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
Uranium has been a valued natural resource for centuries and a strategic commodity since the 1940s. It occurs nearly everywhere on the planet. Its unique radioactive properties were utilized in the medical field as well as in making the world’s first nuclear weapons, bringing about the end of World...
Cover of CR14D; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2014, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
This article presents the history of the Helvetia-Rosemont mining district from 1875 until December 2013. The pre-World War II history of the area deals with the settlers, the early mining camps where they lived, and the mining ventures that developed and worked many of its early mines. The post-...
Cover of RI-113 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1990, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
During the fall of 1985 a reconnaissance of the manganese potential of the James River Valley was initiated by the South Dakota Geological Survey. The results of this brief study were submitted by Lynn S. Hedges (coordinator) of the South Dakota Geological Survey in a proposal to Walden P. Pratt (...
Cover of USGS MCS 2017; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2017, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Each chapter of the 2017 edition of the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries includes information on events, trends, and issues for each mineral commodity as well as discussions and tabular presentations on domestic industry structure, Government programs, tariffs, 5-year salient statistics, and world...
Cover of USGS MCS 2018; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2018, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Each chapter of the 2018 edition of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries (MCS) includes information on events, trends, and issues for each mineral commodity as well as discussions and tabular presentations on domestic industry structure, Government programs, tariffs, 5-year...
Cover of CR15A; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
The mining practice that uses solutions to extract a desired commodity from an ore deposit where it stands without also extracting the rock is known as solution mining. There are essentially two types of solution mining: 1) in-situ and 2) in-place. In-place solution mining requires permeability...