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

Mammatus clouds that are usually associated with thunderstorms.
(2019-03-07)
February 25, 2019 House Democrats held a series of hearings throughout this month to highlight the scientific evidence and impacts of climate change. Beginning on February 6, both the House Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held...
Bingham Copper Mine
(2018-06-08)
May 18, 2018 On May 18, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released the final version of the Critical Minerals List (83 FR 23295) in accordance with Executive Order (EO) 13817. Among other directives, the EO directed the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense...
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...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Fig. 1. Exposure of sandstone capping an economic coal bed. Credit: J. Shaulis, Pennsylvania Geological Survey
Geologic maps provide critical information for coal resource exploration and for planners, regulators, decision makers, and the general public. Defining the Problem Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a major coal producer, information on the coal geology (Fig. 1), remaining resources, and...
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the St. Louis County case study highlighted
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.
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Marquette County case study highlighted
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.
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Greenlee County case study highlighted
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.
Cover of Non-Fuel Products of Oil and Gas
Introduction Oil and natural gas are complex mixtures of chemicals. Oil refineries and gas processing plants extract the organic compounds that make the best fuels for transportation, heating, and electricity generation: gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, heating oil, and methane. Other chemicals...
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Campbell County case study highlighted
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.
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 Elko and Eureka counties case study highlighted
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.
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...
Cover of AGI Factsheet 2018-002-Geologic Mapping and Public Health
Using Geologic Maps to Protect Public Health Geologic maps can be used to understand and mitigate public health risks across the US, in addition to their more traditional use in resource and infrastructure decisions. Geologic maps can show the location of naturally occurring hazardous materials and...
Mining Operation to Produce Road Aggregate, Flowell, Utah. Image Credit:Lee Siebert, Smithsonian Institution.
Under pressure to restrict aggregate operations, county leaders in Tooele, Utah developed an ordinance to protect the stone, gravel, and sand industry as well as the environment. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Tooele, Utah, increased 51.3 percent to 40,735. As demand for construction and...
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Humboldt and Lander counties case study highlighted
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.
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo counties case study highlighted
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.
Fig. 1. Gold, 3.3 cm high, Round Mountain Mine, Nye County, Nevada. L. McMaster collection. Credit: J. Scovil
Geologic maps have provided the key to finding new gold deposits in Nevada. 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...
CI_Factsheet_2017_3_Deicing_170712_thumb
Background In areas prone to winter precipitation, transportation infrastructure must be able to quickly respond to snow and ice on roadways. Ice removal is a vital service in these communities. Deicing chemicals melt ice by lowering the temperature at which it melts. They can also prevent new ice...
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...
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
In Garfield County, an area of multiple land uses, geologic maps show the location and quality of the sand and gravel resources. Planners, citizens, and resource developers use this information to locate and evaluate potential deposits and make informed land-use choices. Defining the Problem As...
Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Pima County case study highlighted
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.
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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...

Cover image Understanding Professional Geologist License Requirements: California 2019, (Image credit: Laurie Racca)
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

This course focuses on the qualification requirements to get a Professional Geologist (PG) license in California and upcoming changes that applicants should understand. It will also provide an overview of the California laws and regulations that govern the practice of geology. Knowledge of...

GOLI Webinar on Story Maps
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Communicating results of geoscience investigations to a diverse set of audiences will grow in importance in our 21st century world. Story maps are web mapping applications that provide geoscientists with the ability to combine 2D and 3D maps, audio, video, photographs, and narrative that can be...

cover image for GOLI Course on Writing for Environmental Careers
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

This course provides insight into the technical writing skills that are needed by geoscience students pursuing careers in the environmental consulting industry. Speakers discuss skills that are developed during undergraduate and graduate academic training, types of written products that are...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

[197?], Pennsylvania Geological Survey

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2018, United States Geological Survey
Rare earth elements (REE), with their unique physical and chemical properties, are an essential part of modern living. REE have enabled development and manufacture of high-performance materials, processes, and electronic technologies commonly used today in computing and communications, clean energy...
2018, United States Geological Survey
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of 55 million barrels of oil and 846 billion cubic feet of gas in the North-Central Montana Province.
2018, Maryland Geological Survey
The Hagerstown Valley is Maryland's part of the Great Valley section of the Ridge and Valley Physiographic Province. The valley is a highly folded, fault-bounded synclinorium, bordered on the east by the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province and on the west by the folded mountains section of the...
2017, United States Geological Survey

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2017, United States Geological Survey

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2017, United States Geological Survey

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2017, United States Geological Survey

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2017, United States Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life. In...
2017, United States Geological Survey
The economic growth of an industrialized nation such as the United States requires raw materials for construction (buildings, bridges, highways, and so forth), defense, and processing and manufacture of goods and services. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the types and quantities of raw...