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Investigations of Uncoventional and Emerging Critical Mineral Resources

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Problem: The association of particluar critical mineral resources with certain known mineral deposit types is relatively well established. For example, platinum-group elements with layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions (e.g., Bushveld Complex), rare earth elements with alkaline-carbonatite complexes (e.g., Mountain Pass), gallium with bauxite deposits, and niobium with some carbonatite complexes. However, critical mineral resources may also occur in deposits significantly different in mineralogy, grade or geologic setting from the known deposit types. For example, platinum-group elements are known to be enriched in some hydrothermal mineral deposits and rare earth elements are enriched in some lateritic clay deposits. These unconventional deposits are not as well documented or understood as conventional deposits. In addition, new technologies and product development continually increase the need for greater production of previously underutilized mineral commodities and the discovery of new deposits.

Objectives: To investigate selected unconventional deposits for critical mineral resources, particularly:

Methodology: Selected unconventional deposits and environments for critical mineral resources will be studied with an emphasis on field investigation, geochemistry, mineralogy, isotopes, and modeling.

Contact: Gilpin Robinson, 703-648-6113, grobinso@usgs.gov

  chart showing net import reliance of nonfuel minerals in the US.  From Mineral Commodity Summaries, by the USGS, 2012. Net Import Reliance chart from USGS Report Mineral Commodity Summaries 2012.

  Sub-Tasks:

Subtask 6.1 Unconventional PGE resources

Subtask 6.2 Unconventional and critical mineral resources in igneous systems

Subtask 6.3 Unconventional and critical mineral resources in modern submarine environments

Subtask 6.4 Unconventional and critical mineral resources in black shales

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