Metals

PDF versionPDF version

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. 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...

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...

GOLI Online Courses

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...

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...

Research Database Publications

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 CR-14-C; Source: Arizonal Geological Survey
2014, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
The Monument Valley uranium district is located in northeastern Arizona and in southeastern Utah (Figure 1). It is within the Navajo Indian Reservation where exploration and mining was under the control of the Navajo Tribal Council and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior....
Cover of USGS MCS 2002; Source: USGS
2002, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In March 2001, shrinking global markets, reduced consumer spending, and declines in domestic manufacturing and industrial output ended the longest economic expansion in U.S. history and pushed the Nation’s economy into its first recession in more than a decade (Berry and Pearlstein, 2001; U.S....
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...
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 SIR2006-5155; Source: USGS
2006, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This report compares estimates of U.S. apparent consumption of lead with estimates of total U.S. consumption of this mineral commodity from a materials flow perspective. The difference, attributed to the amount of lead contained in imported and exported products, was found to be significant for...
Metal Mining and the Environment, AGI
1999, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
The booklet, Metal Mining and the Environment, and the colorful companion poster offer new tools for raising awareness and understanding of the impact and issues surrounding metal mining and the environment. The 64-page full-color booklet contains a copy of the poster which includes a student...
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 for GeoNote 28 ; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
1994, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
An overview of the history of gold mining in the U.S. and in Idaho.
Cover of WSGS PIC46 ; Image credit: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2016, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
Uranium has been a valued natural resource for centuries and a strategic commodity since the 1940s. It occurs nearly everywhere on the planet. Its unique radioactive properties were utilized in the medical field as well as in making the world’s first nuclear weapons, bringing about the end of World...