United States Critical Mineral Resources in a Global Context

Science Center Objects

USGS updated a report on U.S. mineral resources for selected critical mineral commodites. This report updates USGS Professional Paper 820 (1973), which was published when many of the commodities that are covered in this new volume were only of minor importance. Today, advanced technologies have increased the demand for and production of mineral commodities for nearly all elements in the periodic table.  

The problem:

A broad range of existing and emerging technologies are generating unprecedented demand for less-common commodities, such as

  • lithium (Li),
  • indium (In),
  • tellurium (Te),
  • gallium (Ga),
  • antimony (Sb),
  • beryllium (Be), and
  • rare earth elements (REE).

These technologies range from new alternative energy sources to seemingly mundane routine uses. For a variety of reasons, supplies of these elements tend to lag significantly behind demand. One of the principal causes of this lag is the limited amount of exploration done in the last few decades for new sources of many critical minerals. To help ensure an adequate supply of these commodities requires answers to these questions:

  1. How important is the commodity to our present economy and standard of living?
  2. How much of it do we have and to what extent is it economically, environmentally, and technologically available? and
  3. How and where can more be found both in the United States and elsewhere?

What our project did:

PP 1802 cover

Cover of USGS Professional Paper 1802 Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply, https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1802.

(Public domain.)

USGS Professional Paper 1802 provides updates, for selected critical mineral commodities, of:

  1. the current state of knowledge of their geology;
  2. known resources, both U.S. and global;
  3. geoenvironmental issues related to their production and use; and
  4. geologic possibilities for finding additional deposits, both U.S. and global.

The final product is an update of the 1973 U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 820 United States Mineral Resources. The 1973 report presents a synthesis of the state of knowledge of the geology of both major and minor mineral commodities (major metals and industrial minerals as well as a number of commodities of lesser importance at that time) along with an appraisal of the known resources, and an examination of the geologic possibilities for finding additional deposits. Since this report was published, considerable advancements have been made concerning the geology of mineral deposits. In addition, several commodities considered of minor importance in 1973 have today become critical to the national economy and security. The revised professional paper provides updated information to inform government and the public on the status of critical mineral resource commodities in the United States in a global context.