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
  • 11 pounds of lead
  • 6 pounds of zinc
  • 4 pounds of manganese
  • 21 pounds of other metals
  • 535 pound of other non-metals

PLUS:

  • 930 gallons of petroleum
  • 4,409 pounds of coal
  • 87,817 cubic feet of natural gas
  • 0.2 pounds of uranium

Source: Minerals Information Institute, 2018

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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 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.

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...

Does the USGS have reports on the background levels of elements in soils and other surficial materials?

The following USGS products will be helpful in determining the background levels of various elements in soils and other surficial materials: Geochemical and Mineralogical Data for Soils of the Conterminous United States (2013) Data for samples collected at three intervals (0-5 cm surficial soils, A-Horizon soils, and C-Horizon soils) across the...
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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: 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: April 4, 2017

EarthWord–Rock vs. Mineral

Ever wondered what the difference between a rock and a mineral was? This EarthWord should cover it...

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. 

Date published: February 15, 2016

EarthWord – Ore

The naturally occurring material from which a mineral or minerals of economic value can be extracted. Usually minerals, especially metals, are mined first in ore form, then refined later.

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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
...
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 Graphite
March 23, 2017

Graphite in Pegmatite Rock

Mineral: Graphite (C) in pegmatite rock
Mineral Origin: Ticonderoga, NY
Primary Mineral Commodity: Graphite
Mineral Commodity Uses: brake linings, foundry operations, heat-resistant lubricants, refractory applications, and steelmaking

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 Chromite
March 23, 2017

Chromite

Mineral: Chromite
Mineral Origin: Owings Mills, MD
Primary Commodity: Chromium
Primary Commodity Uses: Chromium mostly goes into stainless steel and other alloys, as well as in color pigments.

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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Close up of Sphalerite
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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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Samples of the minerals eudialyte and bastnäsite
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Samples of the minerals eudialyte and bastnäsite

Sample of eudialyte (pink) within layered vein consisting of quartz, albite, and sodic amphibole, Dora Bay, Alaska. Sample of coarse-grained, tabular bastnäsite within matrix of ferruginous dolomite, Birthday Claim, Mountain Pass, California.

Copper
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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

Image shows a detail of a yellow mineral on white rock
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Uranium-Vanadate Mineral in Calcrete

A uranium-vanadate mineral in calcrete. This sample came from near the Sulfur Springs Draw in Texas. USGS conducted an assessment of uranium resources in this region in 2015.

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