Metals

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...

Research Database Publications

Cover for GeoNote 42 ; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
2002, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
This GeoNote provides yearly mineral production data by mine in the Coeur d'Alene district between 1991 and 2000 for silver, lead, zinc, gold, copper, and antimony.
Cover of USGS MCS 2007; Source: USGS
2007, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Minerals are fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels—mining, processing, and manufacturing finished products. The estimated growth rate for the real GDP of the United States for 2006 was 3.2%; the nominal GDP was about $13.2 trillion...
Cover of sir20165075; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 1995, China accounted for 10 percent of world copper consumption. By 2014, China accounted for about 49 percent of world copper consumption. This change has affected global copper and copper scrap prices, the sources of copper supply, and U.S. trade of copper-containing materials.This report...
Cover of USGS MCS 2000; Source: USGS
2000, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. economy expanded at a strong rate in 1999 and, consequently, the consumption of minerals and mineral–based products increased. The increasing growth in the economy pushed production and shipments of most U.S. metals manufacturers higher, as they began recovering from the declines in...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3004 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 3,500 million metric tons (Mt) of undiscovered copper among 225 tracts around the world. Annual U.S. copper consumption is 2 Mt; global consumption is 20 Mt. The USGS assessed undiscovered copper in two...
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 CR-15-c; Source: Arizonal Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
While researching sources of information on pre-U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) carnotite mining on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the author discovered another source. Records of an ore buying station in Farmington, New Mexico operated for a federal vanadium program, provided additional...
Cover of c-118; Source: Utah Geological Survey
2014, Utah Geological Survey (UGS)
During 2013, Utah extractive resource industries produced energy and mineral commodities with an estimated gross value of $9.5 billion. On an inflation-adjusted basis, this is a $1 billion (12%) increase from 2012, and $1.2 billion (11%) less than the 2008 record high of $10.7 billion. Total energy...
Cover of 2015-uranium-summary.pdf; Soure: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2015, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
Due to its radioactive decay, uranium provides a natural source of heat inside the Earth’s crust. This concentrated energy source, found in numerous minerals, is highly valued for its use in nuclear powered electrical generation. Wyoming is home to the largest known economic uranium ore reserves in...
Cover of USGS MCS 2006; Source: USGS
2006, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Minerals are fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels—basic (mining), intermediate (processing), and manufacturing. The estimated growth rate for the real GDP of the United States for 2005 was 3.6%. The nominal GDP was about $12.5...