Mineral Resources

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Global demand is rising for mineral resources of all kinds, including metals, industrial minerals, and solid fuels like coal. Mineral resources are unequally distributed around the globe, reflecting the vast differences in geology of different parts of the Earth. Geoscientists play an essential role in locating mineral resources and designing processes for their safe extraction.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Latest News

Bingham Copper Mine
(2017-09-29)
September 19, 2017 Following the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing on hardrock mines, the Senate is now wading into the contentious area of mining policy reform. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), along with four Democratic cosponsors, introduced the Hardrock...
Excavator mining
(2017-09-29)
September 6, 2017 On September 6, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources discussed three bills that were introduced before the August recess. Two of these bills seek to amend to the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. 181), while the third bill proposes a new...
Excavator mining
(2017-08-16)
July 20, 2017 On July 20, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing to discuss the future of hardrock mining in the United States. Streamlining the permitting process, royalties reform, and reclamation concerns were among the topics discussed...
U.S. Capitol
(2017-04-10)
March 28, 2017 Industry and agency experts examined the United States’ increasing dependence on foreign sources of minerals on March 28. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to explore opportunities to rebuild and improve the supply of critical minerals in the United...
Excavator mining
(2017-04-10)
March 7, 2017 Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA-50) introduced the "Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security (METALS) Act" (H.R.1407) to ensure the U.S. has access to a sustainable and secure supply of materials to safeguard our national security on March 7. H.R.1407 would use one...
U.S. Capitol
(2017-04-10)
March 7, 2017 Soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, which is used in products such as glass, detergent, and other industrial goods, may receive a royalty cut. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the "American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act" (S.546) to temporarily reduce the government royalty...
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....
Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine, California. This mine dominated global rare earth element production from the 1960s to the 1980s. Although it still contains significant reserves, it closed in 2015 due to competition from China. Credit: Dan Cordier, USGS
(2016-11-17)
On Monday November 14, the National Academies' Committee on Earth Resources held a meeting on Mineral and Energy Resource Issues for the Coming Decade. The meeting covered a wide range of issues and focused on the scientific and technical advances and challenges that will affect mineral and energy...
Atlantic waves
(2016-11-03)
October 24, 2016 The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently completed two projects undertaken after Hurricane Sandy. The two projects, which were in collaboration with 13 Atlantic coastal states, included updating maps, consolidating databases of offshore sediment resources, and...
#MapOfTheDay! Check out this interactive map of mineral resources in Maine from @MaineDACF  #mainething
(2016-11-01)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of mineral resources in Maine from the Maine Geological Survey, part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (@MaineDACF), which you can find at http://bit.ly/1JLygUP. For more...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of AGI Case Study 2018-001-Geologic Mapping and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Overview The 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which starts at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, can carry 2 million barrels of oil per day south to the port of Valdez for export, equal to roughly 10% of the daily consumption in the United States in 20171. The pipeline crosses the Denali...

Cover of AGI Factsheet 2017-001 - Recycling as a source of mineral commodities

Why Recycle? Recycling saves energy, money, materials, and natural resources, while reducing landfill use. It supplements the national supply of essential materials, reducing dependence on imports. As more minerals and materials become critically important - particularly in advanced technologies...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Campbell County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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 coal mining in...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo counties case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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 coal mining in West...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Pima County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Greenlee County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Elko and Eureka counties case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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'...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Humboldt and Lander counties case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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'...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the St. Louis County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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....

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Marquette County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management 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...

Mining Operation to Produce Road Aggregate, Flowell, Utah. Image Credit:Lee Siebert, Smithsonian Institution.

Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Tooele, Utah, increased 51.3 percent to 40,735. As demand for construction and aggregate increased, the expanding neighborhoods began encroaching on aggregate operations. The new residents considered the appearance, noise, dust, and traffic associated...

Fig. 1. Simplified geologic map of the Rifle and Silt quadrangles in Garfield County, CO. Yellow indicates unconsolidated sand and gravel deposits. Yellow with black dots indicates deposits of wind-blown silt (loess). Credit: USGS

Defining the Problem As population and urban development have escalated along the Colorado River valley in Garfield County, Colorado, the demand for sand and gravel resources has increased dramatically. Sand and gravel are the basic materials used in most construction projects from roads and...

Fig. 1. Exposure of sandstone capping an economic coal bed. Credit: J. Shaulis, Pennsylvania Geological Survey

Defining the Problem Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a major coal producer, information on the coal geology (Fig. 1), remaining resources, and extent of past mining is not available for many areas of the state. Such information is critical for present and future coal exploration and...

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...

Sunset skyline of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, with the Inco Superstack seen across Ramsey Lake. Licensed under Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User P199

The Sudbury region of Ontario is rich in metallic ores. Underground mining operations at the 15 active mines of Inco Ltd. and Falconbridge Ltd. in Sudbury currently produce 51,000 tons of ore per day [note: these figures are from the late 1990s], and five other mines within 500 km of Sudbury...

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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 MineralResources7.pdf; Source: American Institute of Professional Geologists
2006, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Have you ever asked yourself, “where does that come from,” or “how do they make that?” As an example, consider the ingredients necessary to build the typical home: gravels for driveways and landscaping, cement and concrete for the foundation, glass for windows, metal for nails, screws, hinges, and...
Cover of SR070; Source: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys
2015, Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (AK DGGS)
Alaska may have a golden heart, but on this silver anniversary of the resumption of large-scale mining in the state it is noteworthy that zinc has been galvanizing Alaska’s economy for a quarter century. In 1989 Red Dog and Greens Creek mines started production; in the intervening 25 years the two...
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 FS2015-3021; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Antimony is a brittle, silvery-white semimetal that conducts heat poorly. The chemical compound antimony trioxide (Sb2O3) is widely used in plastics, rubbers, paints, and textiles, including industrial safety suits and some children’s clothing, to make them resistant to the spread of flames. Also,...
Cover of R-11; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
1991, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
Early settlement of the Idaho Territory (established in 1863) was greatly influenced by the influx of prospectors and miners searching largely for gold and silver in its rugged 'mountainous regions. Many of these miners were first involved in the great California gold rush of 1848, and in its...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3122 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) analyzes mineral and metal supply chains to identify and describe major components of mineral and metal material flows from ore extraction, through intermediate forms, to a final product. Supply chain analyses may be used (1) to identify risks to the United States...
Cover of ofr2016-1167; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This report summarizes the primary sources of potash in the United States. Potash is an essential nutrient that, along with phosphorus and nitrogen, is used as fertilizer for growing crops. Plants require sufficient potash to activate enzymes, which in turn catalyze chemical reactions important for...
Cover of cr-15-d; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
In November 1870, General George Stoneman, the military commander of the Arizona Territory, erected a small military camp near the base of Picket Post Mountain and began construction of a road to the proposed site of Camp Pinal, a second military post in the Pinal Mountains. Completed in April 1871...
Cover of S-15-2; Sourrce: Idaho Geological Survey
2015, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
In historical mining terms, 2013 may go down as the end of the global mineral commodity “supercycle.” For mining and mineral exploration in Idaho, this meant significantly less activity in exploration for metallic resources and struggles for existing mines as plummeting metal prices cut revenues....
Cover of P026; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2015, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
Nevada’s mining industry recorded approximately $7.368 billion in total value of all mined commodities (excluding construction aggregates, sand, and gravel) in 2014, representing a 20% decrease from the $9.036 billion value in 2013. Nearly 91% of the value was driven by gold and silver, which...