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

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...
#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...
Excavator mining
(2016-03-10)
February 11, 2016 The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published a report detailing how the Department of Defense (DOD) can better manage supply chain risks for critical rare earth minerals and materials (rare earths). Rare earths are essential for many weapon systems components and...
Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
(2015-07-01)
June 25, 2015 The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals heard testimony mostly in favor of H.R. 1937, the National Critical Minerals Act (NCMA), on June 25. During the hearing, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV), cited the need to speed up the permitting...
Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
(2014-10-06)
September 30, 2014 A report released on September 29 by the Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) relates the shortcomings of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) policy to detect and deter illegal mineral or oil and gas drilling on federal lands. The inspection was conducted due to the...
U.S. Capitol with flag
(2014-07-07)
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources June 12, 2014 Witness Panel (with links to opening statements)Mr. Cary Ralston Vice President/General Manager, ATK Missile Products DivisionMr. James King Vice President, Unconventional Completions, Baker Hughes IncorporatedMr...

Case Studies & Factsheets

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, and five other mines within 500 km of Sudbury produce another 50,000 tons per day. By-products...

Research Database Publications

Cover of fs2016-3029 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Alaska is a major producer of base and precious metals and has a high potential for additional undiscovered mineral resources. However, discovery is hindered by Alaska’s vast size, remoteness, and rugged terrain. New methods are needed to overcome these obstacles in order to fully evaluate Alaska’s...
Cover for GeoNote 12 ; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
1990, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
The high desert landscape of remote eastern Owyhee County's broad plateaus and deep canyons reflects a turbulent geologic history. The region's complex volcanism may be related to the formation of certain deposits of precious metals and industrial minerals. Such deposits are a major economic...
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...
Cover of USGS MCS 2005; Source: USGS
2005, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The mineral sector is a fundamental part of the U.S. economy; it contributes to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels—basic (mining), intermediate (processing), and manufacturing. The estimated average growth rate for the real GDP of the United States for 2004 was 3.9%. The...
Cover of P-25 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2014, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This is the twenty-fifth of an annual series of summary reports on major mines of Nevada. Sand and gravel operations are not included. Information on employment and production for the calendar year 2013 was provided by the individual mine operators. The Nevada Division of Minerals maintains a...
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 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 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 P-20 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2009, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This twentieth 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 2008. Map locations of all major mines are shown and an overview of mineral production and its effect on Nevada's...
Cover of B2213; Source: USGS
2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This report addresses the potential for undiscovered mineral and coal resources in the three national forests and surrounding greater study area and is based on information available as of 1998. The undiscovered-mineral resource assessment was conducted for only those deposit types for which there...