About the Program
The responsibility of the USGS for minerals information and research has evolved considerably since the Organic Act of 1879 established the USGS and defined its role as classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain.
Today the United States is the world's largest user of mineral commodities. Every year, about 25,000 lbs. of new non-fuel mineral materials is extracted from the Earth for every person in the United States just to satisfy the needs of the growing U.S. economy.
Mineral materials processed domestically accounted for more than $575 billion in the U.S. economy in 2007. U.S. manufacturers and consumers require increasing amounts of imported mineral materials. Making informed decisions about supply and development of mineral commodities that are critical to our economy and security requires current and reliable information about both mineral resources and the consequences of their development.
In its 2003 review of the USGS Mineral Resources Program (MRP), the National Research Council identified four Federal roles in mineral science and engineering: an unbiased national source of science and information, basic research on mineral resources, advisory, and international (undertaking or supporting international activities that are in the national interest). The Program addresses these four roles through work in two functions: a research and assessment function that provides information for land planners and decision makers about where mineral commodities are known and suspected in the Earth's crust, and a minerals information function that collects, analyzes, and disseminates data that describe current production and consumption of about 100 mineral commodities, both domestically and internationally for approximately 180 countries. Together these activities provide information ranging from that required for land planning decisions on specific management units to that required for national and international economic decisions.
For a brief overview of the program, see U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2007-3035: U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Resources Program—Science Supporting Mineral Resource Stewardship.
Strategic Planning and Funding
MRP is funded annually through the Congressional appropriations process. Projects supported by MRP provide a balance between basic and applied research that will provide world-class earth science research and data for a wide range of customers.
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 metallic mineral resources was part of the justification for the creation of the USGS in 1879.
The MRP is monitored and evaluated regularly by several methods.