Mineral Resources Program

Critical Mineral Resources

Demand for critical mineral commodities is on the rise with increasing applications in consumer products such as phones and tablets. Research and assessment activities address the need for more up-to-date information on the nation's and the world's critical mineral resources.

Filter Total Items: 28
Date published: July 8, 2019
Status: Active

Lithium from Source to Sink: Genesis and Evolution of Li Brines and Clays

The purpose of this project is to trace the lithium (Li) geochemical cycle in the Great Basin, with an emphasis on the pathways that lead to the development of lithium clay and brine resources.

Date published: July 8, 2019
Status: Active

Concealed Rare Earth Element (REE) Terranes in the Southern Basin and Range Geologic Province

The project is developing an understanding of the types, sizes, and spatial distribution of rare earth element (REE) related deposits in the southern Basin and Range geologic province to help ensure the availability of rare earth elements to the U.S.

Contacts: Mark Bultman
Date published: July 2, 2019
Status: Active

Volcanic-related Beryllium Deposits of the US: Geologic Setting, Genesis, and the Potential for Post-Extraction Recovery of By-Product Critical Minerals

Project objectives are: 1) to fully establish a comprehensive and robust geologic and geochemical framework for the occurrence of volcanic-related beryllium (Be) deposits; 2) further our understanding of the fundamental ore processes that lead to formation of volcanogenic beryllium (Be)-boron (B)-lithium (Li)-phosphorus (P) group deposits, by investigating processes favorable for enhanced...

Contacts: Nora Foley
Date published: June 24, 2019
Status: Active

Systems Approach to Critical Minerals Inventory, Research, and Assessment

This project supports the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (EarthMRI) by developing a mineral systems approach for defining focus areas. This project is investigating domestic sources of critical minerals in three sequential stages: inventory, research, and assessment.

1) Inventory the abundance of critical minerals in ore, minerals, and processed...

Date published: June 11, 2019
Status: Active

Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) Data Acquisition and Coordination

Project goal is to provide the scientific foundation for the entire Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) to develop a consistent method for prioritizing areas for the new national-scale data acquisition needed to identify undiscovered critical mineral resources. USGS, in coordination with State Geological Surveys, is acquiring new topographic,...

Date published: August 9, 2018
Status: Active

Antimony In and Around the Yellow Pine Deposit, Central Idaho

Project objectives are to document the origin of the Yellow Pine gold-antimony deposit and, by extension, the origin of this deposit type. Our goal is to understand the structural, tectonic, and magmatic setting of the deposit, the character of the ore-transporting fluids, the conditions of ore deposition, and the regional stratigraphic framework and geochemical ore controls of metasedimentary...

Date published: August 3, 2018
Status: Active

Sediment-Hosted Copper Deposits in the Lake Superior Portion of the Midcontinent Rift System

This project is focused on the sediment-hosted copper deposits of the Midcontinent Rift, with three main objectives: 1) describe the ore mineralogy and geochemistry of the White Pine and Copperwood deposits, 2) evaluate whether hydrothermal alteration in footwall rocks can be used as a vector towards ore, and 3) provide a careful scoping study to evaluate whether unconventional platinum-group...

Date published: August 3, 2018
Status: Active

Rare Earth Element Accumulation Processes Resulting in High-Value Metal Enrichments in Regolith

The Southeastern United States contains numerous granites of the type that contain high concentrations of rare earth elements. We are conducting studies of these granites to advance rare earth element (REE) resource identification and assessment by resulting in an improved understanding of the fundamental source rock types, modes and occurrences, and geochemical parameters necessary for the...

Contacts: Nora Foley
Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Platinum-Group Elements in Layered Intrusions Associated with the Midcontinent Rift

Platinum-group elements (PGE) are critical commodities. They are essential for the U.S. economy; however the U.S. imports about 90 percent of the platinum-group elements that we need to use. The project objective is to assess the Duluth Complex and related mafic-ultramafic intrusions in the 1.1 Ga Midcontinent Rift System in the Lake Superior region. Our current activities focus on a ...

Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Completed

Beryllium: Economic Geology, Material Flow, and Global Importance of a Key Critical Mineral

Beryllium (Be) is a critical metal mineral commodity with unique chemical properties, making it indispensable to the computer, telecommunication, aerospace, medical, defense, and nuclear industries. We are studying known deposits of beryllium to determine where undiscovered beryllium resources might be found, analyzing how and where beryllium becomes concentrated in Earth’s crust, gathering a...

Contacts: Nora Foley
Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Active

Geochemical Signatures and Environmental Impacts of Ore and Trace Mineralization in the Southern Midcontinent

The overall project objective is a comprehensive analysis of the natural and anthropogenic consequences of extensive ore and trace mineralization in the southern midcontinent of the U.S. with a focus on Missouri. This will be conducted at two scales: 1) landscape and 2) process-level.

1) Landscape scale using geospatial and machine learning techniques to combine multiple geochemical and...

Date published: June 19, 2018
Status: Active

Critical Elements in Carbonatites: From Exploration Targets to Element Distribution

Critical elements are essential to the modern economy and have potential supply chain disruptions, but compared to most base and precious metals, little work has been done in understanding ore-grade enrichments. Carbonatites are the primary source of the worlds light rare earth elements and niobium, and a potential source for heavy rare earths, scandium, tantalum, and thorium. Project...