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. 

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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 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: 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: 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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mineral fact sheets
March 1, 2019

Mineral Commodity Fact Sheets

A sample of fact sheets on selected important commodities that are published by the Mineral Resources Program.

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
...
MCS 2017 cover
January 31, 2017

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2017 Cover

Cover of USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2017 report.

January 27, 2017

NMIC - 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries Release

The National Minerals Information Center, the primary agency for collecting and analyzing nonfuel minerals information, releases the 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries, a collection of reports on over 85 commodities essential to the U.S. economy and national security.

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
...
USGS
September 4, 2008

Why Do Minerals Matter?

You might be surprised where minerals pop up; they're just about everywhere. We sit down with Kathleen Johnson, USGS Mineral Resources Program Coordinator, as she walks us through just how valuable minerals are to our lives.

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016 cover

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016

Cover of the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016 report.