Mineral Resources Program

Mineral System Life Cycles

Understanding potential and existing environmental impacts of mineral resources and their extraction promotes sustainable development of needed mineral materials and responsible stewardship of our natural resources.

Filter Total Items: 16
Date published: September 23, 2019
Status: Active

Critical Mineral Recovery Potential from Tailings and Other Mine Waste Streams

The primary objectives of this one-year scoping project are to determine the feasibility of extracting byproduct mineral commodities, such as critical minerals, from mine tailings. We plan to analyze the existing data and reports from an active mine site on the composition of their mill tailings pile, and collect preliminary reconnaissance samples to identify appropriate analytical techniques...

Contacts: Bob Seal
Date published: May 1, 2019
Status: Active

Salmon River Mountains Legacy Mining Studies

The objective of this study is to characterize the regional impact of legacy mining in the context of framework geology for the Salmon Mountains in central Idaho. This objective is addressed through three interrelated tasks: 1) framework geology, 2) watershed biogeochemical processes, and 3) characterization of trace metals in colloids (fine particles suspended in water).

Date published: August 9, 2018
Status: Active

USGS Response to Possible Metals Contamination from Legacy Mines in the Patagonia Mountains Region and Adjacent Areas, Southeast Arizona and a Template for Future Mineral Environmental Emergency Response

USGS is conducting sampling, monitoring, and modeling in the Patagonia Mountains and nearby regions in Arizona to identify contaminant risk potential of legacy and proposed mine sites and to develop classification criteria for predicting vulnerabilities and targeted sources and sinks of metal contaminants.

Contacts: Floyd Gray
Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Processes Controlling Groundwater Quality in Uranium In-Situ Recovery (ISR) Mining

The project's primary objective is to evaluate the reducing capacity of an aquifer down-gradient of a roll-front ore zone to assess the mobility of uranium and other associated elements (e.g. arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, and sulfur). Assessing the reducing capacity of the aquifer requires characterization of the mineralogy, geochemistry, and microbiology and their variation across the...

Contacts: Jean M Morrison
Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Completed

Mineville, Eastern Adirondacks – Geophysical and Geologic Studies

The USGS is using a set of advanced imaging and analysis tools to study the rocks within the eastern Adirondacks of upstate New York. The goal of these studies is to gain a better understanding of the geology and mineral resources in the area.

Contacts: Anjana K Shah
Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Completed

Geoenvironmental Model Refinement and Advancement

The overall objective of our project is to take the abundant geoenvironmental model research that the Mineral Resources Program has supported, and use it to refine the geoenvironmental model concept to make it more useable for our current stakeholders.

Contacts: Bob Seal
Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Active

Emerging Geoenvironmental Issues Related to Proposed Mining in the Lake Superior Region

We are studying environmental issues related to mining, and potential mining, in the Great Lakes region, continuing the study of characterizing baseline geochemistry of several watersheds in Minnesota and Michigan, examining the potential for aquatic toxicity from metals, and examining the acid-neutralizing and acid-generating potentials of mine waste, and the environmental, and possible human...

Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Completed

Sources, Forms, Extractability of Metals in Non-Ore Deposit Sources

This project explored potential recovery and environmental consequences of metals in mining and mineral processing wastes as a function of ore deposit geology, and in debris from demolished or burned buildings. 

Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Completed

Trace Metal Mobility in the Yellow Pine Mining District, Idaho

The study objective is to conduct an integrated, interdisciplinary study on source areas, biogeochemical transformations, and physical and biological pathways for trace metal transport in a tributary of the Snake River watershed, focusing on the Sugar Creek watershed. The historical Cinnabar mercury mine site is at the headwaters of Cinnabar Creek, a tributary to Sugar Creek. This integrated...

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

Life Cycles of Byproduct Critical Minerals

Project objectives are to 1) assess the overall life cycle of selected byproduct critical elements tellurium (Te), indium (In), gallium (Ga), and germanium (Ge), 2) perform an assessment of critical element resources and examine the processes and conditions controlling the concentration of byproduct critical elements by deposit type, and 3) improve understanding of the surficial geochemistry...

Contacts: Bob Seal
Date published: May 14, 2018
Status: Active

New Applications of Hyperspectral Imaging to Delineate Critical Minerals Concentrated in Regolith and Mine Waste Materials

Our project will develop new and innovative spectral methods and remote sensing tools for understanding how critical minerals are concentrated by weathering, regolith/soil formation, mining, runoff and ore processing. These tools will help us to use mineralogy derived from spectral measurements (lab, field, and remote sensing) to help delineate vectors towards recoverable resources and to...

Contacts: Bernard Hubbard