Metals

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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. 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...

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 USGS MCS 2015; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 2014, the estimated value of total nonfuel mineral production increased in the United States. The quantity of production increased for most mineral commodities mined in the United States. Prices increased for the majority of mineral commodities, but notable exceptions were the declines in prices...
Cover image of position statement; Image credit: SME
2015, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
The Nation runs on energy. It is essential for the economic growth and national security of the United States that the Nation have an adequate, sustainable, environmentally acceptable and economically viable balanced supply of energy sources, (e.g. coal, petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, solar, wind...
Cover of WOFR1991-05 ; Source: Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey
1991, Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey (WGNHS)
Extensive lead mining in southwest Wisconsin began in the early 1830s. Mining methods were simple and primitive. A shallow pit would be dug, normally without cribbing, to bedrock. If a concentration of galena was found in the basal residual soil on top of bedrock the miners reached out with special...
Cover of USGS MCS 2012; Source: USGS
2012, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 2011, the value of mineral production increased in the United States for the second consecutive year. Production increased modestly for most mineral commodities mined in the United States, and price increases, especially for precious metals, resulted in increases in the value of production....
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 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 sir20165075; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 1995, China accounted for 10 percent of world copper consumption. By 2014, China accounted for about 49 percent of world copper consumption. This change has affected global copper and copper scrap prices, the sources of copper supply, and U.S. trade of copper-containing materials.This report...
Cover of CR15A; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
The mining practice that uses solutions to extract a desired commodity from an ore deposit where it stands without also extracting the rock is known as solution mining. There are essentially two types of solution mining: 1) in-situ and 2) in-place. In-place solution mining requires permeability...
Cover of USGS MCS 2003; Source: USGS
2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Following the recession of 2001, restrained consumer spending, declines in domestic manufacturing and industrial output, and increased unemployment led to an expansion of only about 2% in the domestic economy during 2002. Significant production declines in the U.S. metals industry were registered...
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...