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Mineral Resources Program

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Program History

MRP continues a tradition of Federal leadership in the science of mineral resources that extends back before the beginning of the USGS. The need for information about mineral production and mineral resources was part of the justification for the creation of the USGS in 1879. In response to the need to assess large areas of Federal lands in the 20th century, MRP scientists developed, tested, and refined tools to support managers making land-use decisions on Federal lands. The refinement of the tools and techniques that have established the USGS as a world leader in mineral resource assessments extends into the 21st century.

Thirteen years before the establishment of the USGS in 1879, Congress authorized the Treasury Department to collect statistical information on gold and silver mines in the Western States. The responsibility for this activity (expanded to cover all mineral commodities in the entire United States) became vested in the Division of Mining Statistics in the newly formed USGS. This function was moved to the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1925; the importance of the information resulted in the transfer of the collection, analysis, and dissemination of mineral statistics back to the USGS in 1996.

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