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

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
U.S. Geological Survey

Latest News

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, 2017On 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...
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...

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 for USGS FS 2014-3054 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Niobium and tantalum are transition metals almost always paired together in nature. These “twins” are difficult to separate because of their shared physical and chemical properties. In 1801, English chemist Charles Hatchett uncovered an unknown element in a mineral sample of columbite; John...
Cover of P-14 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2003, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This fourteenth 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 2002. Map locations of all major mines are shown and an overview of mineral production and its effect on Nevada's...
Cover of P-16 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2005, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This sixteenth 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 2004. Map locations of all major mines are shown and an overview of mineral production and its effect on Nevada's...
Cover of Update_Future_of_Mineral_Resources_18November2011.pdf; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2011, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
Presentation by Jon Price at the Geological Society of Nevada, 18 November 2011
Cover of USGS_2015-3011; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Germanium is a rare element but is present in trace quantities in most rock types because of its affinity for iron- and organic-bearing materials. The average germanium content of the Earth is about 14 parts per million, but the majority of germanium resides within the Earth’s core (37 parts per...
Cover of SP9-chp3; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2014, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Deposits of rare earth elements (REE) are found in New Mexico, but they have not been important exploration targets in past years because demand has been met elsewhere. However, with the projected increase in demand and potential lack of available REE production from China, the New Mexico deposits...
Cover of IC 50 ; Source: Maryland Geological Survey
1991, Maryland Geological Survey (MGS)
The value of nonfuel mineral production in Maryland in 1989 was about $342 million. Value of mineral output declined for the first time in 6 years, primarily resulting from a moderation in demand for construction aggregates. Although the quantity and value declined, production of crushed stone, the...
Cover for GeoNote 19 ; Source: Idaho Geological Survey
1992, Idaho Geological Survey (IGS)
Renewed interest in precious metals these past few years has stimulated a modern mining bonanza in the western U.S. With the lure of a productive mining past, Idaho has enjoyed a big share of the attention. This GeoNote shows the locations of mineral exploration and development projects underway in...
Cover of OFR 2015-1021; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This study, covering the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Central Yukon Planning Area (CYPA), Alaska, was prepared to aid BLM mineral resource management planning. Estimated mineral resource potential and certainty are mapped for six selected mineral deposit groups: (1) rare earth element (REE)...
Cover of P-11 ; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2000, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
This eleventh 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 1999. Map locations of all major mines are shown and an overview of mineral production and its effect on Nevada's...