How large is a lifetime supply of minerals for the average person?

At today's level of consumption, the average newborn infant will need a lifetime supply of 800 pounds of lead, 750 pounds of zinc, 1,500 pounds of copper, 3,593 pounds of aluminum, 32,700 pounds of iron, 26,550 pounds of clays, 28,213 pounds of salt, and 1,238,101 pounds of stone, sand, gravel, and cement.

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Where can I find information about mineral commodities?

For statistical information about mineral commodities, visit the USGS Commodity Statistics and Information website. For locations outside the United States, the USGS International Minerals Statistics and Information website is the best starting point.

What is the difference between a rock and a mineral?

A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties. Common minerals include quartz, feldspar, mica, amphibole, olivine, and calcite. A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals, or a body of undifferentiated mineral...

How much silver has been found in the world?

Of the 1,740,000 metric tons of silver discovered to date, 55% is found in just four countries on earth. All the silver discovered thus far would fit in a cube 55 meters on a side. Learn more at the USGS commodity website for silver .

How much gold has been found in the world?

About 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered to date (187,000 metric tons historically produced plus current underground reserves of 57,000 metric tons). Most of that gold has come from just three countries: China, Australia, and South Africa. The United States ranked fourth in gold production in 2016. All of the gold discovered thus far...

How much copper has been found in the world?

To date, roughly 700 million metric tons of copper have been produced around the world. This would fit into a cube measuring about 430 meters on a side. Identified deposits contain an estimated 2.1 billion metric tons of additional copper, which brings the total amount of discovered copper to 2.8 billion metric tons. This would fit into a cube...

How many pounds of minerals are required by the average person in a year?

To maintain our standard of living, each person in the United States requires over 38,449 pounds of minerals each year: 9,426 pounds of stone 6,768 pounds of sand and gravel 655 pounds of cement 142 pounds of clays 338 pounds of salt 244 pounds of iron ore 195 pounds of phosphate rock 34 pounds of soda ash 28 pounds of aluminum 13 pounds of copper...

How do we extract minerals?

The primary methods used to extract minerals from the ground are: Underground mining Surface (open pit) mining Placer mining The location and shape of the deposit, strength of the rock, ore grade, mining costs, and current market price of the commodity are some of the determining factors for selecting which mining method to use. Higher-grade...
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Date published: May 18, 2018

Interior Releases 2018’s Final List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy

The Department of the Interior today published a list of 35 mineral commodities considered critical to the economic and national security of the United States. This list will be the initial focus of a multi-agency strategy due in August this year to implement President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order to break America's dependence on foreign minerals

Date published: July 17, 2017

Rich, Attractive, and Extremely Shallow

No, it’s not a title for a new reality-dating TV show, but it is real science! It also describes the ideal mineral deposit.

Date published: April 14, 2017

The Top 5 Mineral-Producing States

In 2016, these five states led the pack in mineral production, accounting for about one third of the total mineral production value for the entire country.

Date published: April 7, 2017

The Top 5 U.S. Minerals by Production Value

In 2016, the United States mined $74.6 billion worth of minerals, and the following five mineral commodities accounted for 68.5 percent of that value.

Date published: April 4, 2017

Ordinary Minerals Give Smartphones Extraordinary Capabilities

Earlier this year, Apple’s iPhone celebrated the 10th anniversary of its introduction to the world, an event that fueled a transformation within the technology and communications sector. This revolution would influence billions of smartphone users around the world forever altering many aspects of human life. 

Date published: January 16, 2017

Tracking Critical Minerals to Ensure National Preparedness

On an ordinary Tuesday in 2014, David Pineault, an economist at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), reviewed his specialized reports and came to a startling conclusion: the United States needed to increase its stockpile of a basic manufacturing material with military applications—yttrium oxide, a material used in laser rangefinders. 

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October 26, 2017

2017 Oct. Public Lecture — Global Trends in Mineral Commodity Supplies

  • The U.S. is increasingly reliant on supply of mineral raw materials from other countries.
  • Advanced technologies are increasingly making use of nearly the entire periodic table of the elements.
  • Dynamic studies of critical and strategic mineral supply and demand can identify emerging potential supply risks.
  • The USGS - National Minerals
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Minerals in mobile devices infographic
April 6, 2017

Minerals in Mobile Devices — Infographic

This infographic displays the different minerals located in mobile devices. Included within this infographic are:

  • Display: Silica Sand and Bauxite
    Silica Sand: A mobile device's glass screen is very durable because glassmakers combine its main ingredient, silica (silicon dioxide or quartz) sand, with ceramic materials and then add potassium.
    Bauxite:
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Full view of Molybdenite
March 23, 2017

Molybdenite

Mineral: Molybdenite
Mineral Origin: Henderson Mine, Empire, CO
Primary Mineral Commodity: Molybdenum
Mineral Commodity Uses: In the late 19th century, French metallurgists discovered that molybdenum, when alloyed (mixed) with steel in small quantities, creates a substance that is remarkably

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Full view of salt, sodium, chlorine sample
March 23, 2017

Salt, Sodium, Chlorine

Mineral: Halite (NaCl)
Primary mineral Commodity: Salt
Commodity Uses: Highway deicing accounted for about 44% of total salt consumed in 2016. Salt is also used as feedstock for chlorine and caustic soda manufacture; these two inorganic chemicals are used to make many consumer-related end-use products, such as

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Close up of Bauxite
March 23, 2017

Bauxite

Mineral: Bauxite
Mineral Origin: Les Baux, France (Sample donated by Gary Kingston)
Primary Commodity: Aluminum and Gallium
Primary Commodity Uses: Aluminum is one of the most used metals on the planet, finding roles in transportation, construction, packaging, electronics, and other consumer

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Full view of Bauxite sample
March 23, 2017

Bauxite

Mineral: Bauxite
Mineral Origin: Les Baux, France (Sample donated by Gary Kingston)
Primary Commodity: Aluminum and Gallium
Primary Commodity Uses: Aluminum is one of the most used metals on the planet, finding roles in transportation, construction, packaging, electronics, and other consumer

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Close up of Sphalerite
March 23, 2017

Sphalerite

Sphalerite, zinc sulfide, is and has been the principal ore mineral in the world. Zinc uses range from metal products to rubber and medicines. Zinc alloys readily with other metals and is chemically active. On exposure to air, it develops a thin gray oxide film (patina), which inhibits deeper oxidation (corrosion) of the metal. The metal’s resistance to corrosion is an

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Copper
December 13, 2016

Copper

Zambia is the eighth largest copper producer in the world. USGS assessments estimated that the potential for undiscovered copper deposits in Zambia is larger than once thought. Photograph credit: USGS

March 26, 2015

PubTalk 3/2015 — The Environmental Legacy of California's Gold Rush

by Andrea Foster, USGS Research Geologist & Christopher Kim, Associate Professor, Chapman University

  • Why are arsenic and mercury associated with California's gold mines?
  • What types of arsenic and mercury contamination can be directly related to historic mining?
  • How are geochemists studying the distribution and
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Sand and gravel extraction pit near Wagner, South Dakota
December 31, 2012

Sand and gravel extraction pit near Wagner, South Dakota

Sand and gravel extraction pit near Wagner, South Dakot

May 26, 2011

PubTalk 5/2011 — The Future of Rare Earth Elements

--Will these high-tech industry elements continue in short supply?

by Keith Long, USGS Mineral Resource Analyst

 

  • Rare earth elements provide critical material for flat-panel display screens, cell phones, electric cars, windmills, etc.
  • Although relatively abundant in nature, deposits of rare earth elements that
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