The U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Resources Program Five-Year Plan, 2006-2010
The United States is the world's largest user of mineral commodities and is currently experiencing growth in consumption and price increases in the non-fuel minerals industries. USGS Mineral Resources Program (MRP) is the sole Federal provider of scientific information for objective resource assessments and unbiased research results on mineral potential, production, consumption, and environmental effects. At the same time, MRP provides comprehensive baseline data for the United States in the fields of geochemistry, geophysics, and mineral deposits. These data are used by government agencies, academic research institutions, and the private sector to understand the composition of earth materials and changes in conditions of the Nation's lands over time. The MRP comprises two major functions: (1) 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 about the environmental consequences of the presence of those commodities and (2) a data collection, analysis, and dissemination function that describes current production and consumption of about 100 mineral commodities, both domestically and internationally for approximately 180 countries. The unique expertise developed by MRP over many decades in response to mineral-resource-related issues is now in demand to support applications such as public health research and remediation of effects of natural hazards.
Through world-class research and information management, the MRP provides the nation and the world with the highest quality, most trusted scientific information related to mineral production and mineral resources as well as baseline information on composition and properties of earth materials across the United States and fosters the use of its analyses and information in national and international public and private policy arenas and decision-making.
USGS Mineral Resources Program serves the Nation by providing timely and unbiased analyses and comprehensive information related to mineral resources and earth materials required to:
- Improve stewardship of public lands and resources;
- Formulate national and international economic and security policy;
- Sustain prosperity and improve quality of life; and
- Protect and improve public health, safety, and environmental quality.
Future science obligations for MRP include undertaking a new soil geochemical survey which is planned to meet the needs of a broad cross-section of earth science data users, ranging from those responsible for site-based remediation planning to minerals exploration companies interested in quickly understanding the range of likely concentrations of trace metals in soils. Another exciting opportunity is in the first update of the 1995 national mineral resource assessment, which was the first ever quantitative assessment of potential for undiscovered mineral deposits for the United States. Completion of new national-scale databases should bring marked enhancements to that product and will provide land planners with the best possible basis for decisions regarding future mineral potential and will allow the federal government to assess national mineral needs and requirements.
The long-term goals of the Mineral Resources Program are designed to be ambitious but achievable, with metrics embedded so that progress can be readily measured. Each goal is supported by clear five-year goals for which success can be described in terms of both products and societal response. In all cases, the primary goal is to provide new scientific information that contributes to assuring security of supply of mineral commodities essential to society.
Long-term (greater than 5 years) goals of the Mineral Resources Program:
Research and Assessments
- Ensure availability of up-to-date quantitative assessments of potential for undiscovered mineral deposits
- Ensure availability of up-to-date geoenvironmental assessments of priority Federal lands
- Ensure availability of reliable geologic, geochemical, geophysical, and mineral locality data for the United States
- Continuing: Ensure availability of scientific facilities and services required to achieve MRP goals
- Ensure availability of long-term data sets describing mineral production and consumption for national security needs
Five-year goals are designed to move USGS forward in the realm of mineral resources by identifying activities in key areas of the minerals life cycle in which new information, targeted research, and state-of-the-art analyses can make the most difference.
Staffing and facilities challenges abound for MRP because of the wide range of skills required to conduct the program's work and because of many years of flat to declining budgets. MRP addresses these challenges in partnership with region and cost center management and has seen considerable success in these areas in recent years.