Mineral Resources

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

Latest News

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...
Screenshot of Mines of Ohio interactive map from the Ohio DNR. Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources
(2016-10-07)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared Mines of Ohio, an interactive map of geothermal resources in the U.S. from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (@ohiodnr), which you can find at http://bit.ly/2dS8Qk5. For more information on past and present mining and...
Logo of the Society of Mining and Metallurgy Exploration, Inc. (SME)
(2016-09-01)
The Society for Mining and Metallurgy Exploration, Inc. (SME) has posted a new Technical Briefing Paper on the website regarding Federal Support for U.S. Mining Schools. In it they provide background on the issue, outline reasons investment in these programs is valuable to the American public and...
(2016-06-29)
After four years of advocacy, SME announced that the SEC has released a proposed rule change in Industry Guide 7 (IG7) for public comment. This proposed change will streamline U.S. guidelines with international guidelines. The public comment period on this proposed change is now open and will...

Case Studies & Factsheets

CI_Factsheet_2017_1_recycling_170331_thumb.JPG

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. 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 coal mining in Campbell County, Wyoming can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo 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 coal mining in West Virginia's Boone, Logan, and Mingo counties...

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...

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...

Research Database Publications

Cover of cir1413; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This circular provides an overview of selected activities that were conducted within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Integrated Methods Development Project, an interdisciplinary project designed to develop new tools and conduct innovative research requiring integration of geologic, geophysical,...
Cover of P-17 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2006, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This seventeenth issue of an annual series of reports on the major mines and mills in Nevada lists the names and addresses of operators, numbers of employees, and annual production in 2005. Map locations of all major mines are shown and an overview of mineral production and its effect on Nevada's...
Cover image of position statement; Image credit: SME
2016, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
The minerals industry appreciates that whereas it mines and processes minerals to maintain and advance our standard of living, it must do so in a manner that protects the Earth and its environs so that the generations to come are not adversely impacted and can enjoy its bounties.
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 of IC 44 ; Source: Maryland Geological Survey
1985, Maryland Geological Survey (MGS)
Maryland's 1985 nonfuel mineral production was valued at $258.3 million. This $16.6 million increase over 1984 values was almost 30% over that of 1983, the former record-high year. The leading commodities in terms of value were stone, cement, and sand and gravel.
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 image of factsheet; Image credit: SME
2010, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
About 130 million cell phones are retired annually in the United States. Collectively, these cell phones weigh about 14,000 metric tons. Annually retired cell phones contain almost 2,100 metric tons of copper, 46 metric tons of silver, 3.9 metric tons of gold, 2 metric tons of palladium, and 0.04...
Cover for OFR2002-418; Source: USGS
2002, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Valuable insights about the future availability of minerals for the U.S. economy can be gained from a study of the history of U.S. mineral development. From the beginning, first as corporate ventures, next as colonies, then as States united, American governments have pursued policies that had the...
Cover image of factsheet; Image credit: SME
2010, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
CFLs are known as compact fluorescent lights or compact fluorescent light bulbs. In a CFL, an electric current is driven through a glass tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates invisible ultraviolet light that excites a fluorescent coating (called phosphor) on the...
Cover for S-97-23 ; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
1997, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
This paper summarizes all mining and mineral-related activity in Idaho for 1995.