Global Mineral Resource Assessments

Science Center Objects

In response to the growing demand for information on the global mineral-resource base, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed assessments for undiscovered resources of porphyry and sediment-hosted copper, platinum-group elements, and potash.

Understanding the global distribution of nonfuel mineral resources

The USGS conducts national and global assessments of renewable and nonrenewable resources to support decision making. Mineral resource assessments provide a synthesis of available information about where mineral deposits are known and suspected in the Earth's crust, what commodities may be present, and amounts of undiscovered resources.

After completing the first quantitative national mineral resource assessment in the 1990s, the USGS conducted a feasibility study to determine whether a global assessment was possible with current knowledge and technology. That study demonstrated that the work would be possible, if conducted in partnership with geological surveys and other interested organizations worldwide. The Global Mineral Resource Assessment Project started in 2002 as a cooperative international effort to assess the world's undiscovered nonfuel mineral resources.

The purposes of the study were to provide

  • the first globally consistent and comprehensive analysis of selected types of undiscovered nonfuel mineral resources, and
  • all nations with a regional and global context for evaluating their mineral resources, planning for new mineral exploration and anticipating the economic, environmental, and social impacts of mineral development, and making land use decisions.

The results of this global project are reported in the form of

  • maps showing regions in which it is likely that there are undiscovered resources of copper, platinum-group elements (PGE), and potash,
  • compilations of known deposits of these important commodities,
  • descriptions of the characteristics of the known deposits, and
  • estimates of the probable amounts of undiscovered copper, PGEs, and potash to depths of 1 to 3 kilometers below the Earth's surface.

The products of this assessment can be used as the foundation for

  • potential mineral supply/sustainable mineral supply and development,
  • environmental planning/anticipate potential impacts,
  • land use planning/biodiversity, land-use conflicts, and
  • economic planning/jobs, poverty reduction, economic development.