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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. Every year, about 25,000 lbs. of new non-fuel mineral materials from the earth must be provided for every person in the United States just to maintain our current standard of living (Dorr and Paty, 2002). Processed materials of mineral origin accounted for over $418 billion in the U.S. economy in 2004 (an increase of 13 percent over 2003). U.S. manufacturers and consumers of mineral products that are critical to the U.S. economy depended on other countries for 100 percent of 17 mineral commodities (an increase of 6 percent over 2003) and for more than 50 percent of 42 mineral commodities (an increase of 8 percent over 2003). Making informed decisions about supply and development of mineral commodities requires current and reliable information about both mineral resources and the consequences of their development.

Chart of U.S. dependencies on mineral commodities.
The U.S. economy depends on importing significant percentages of 62 non-fuel mineral commodities from trading partners around the world (USGS, 2005, p. 6).

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. 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. Each function supports the other, and each meets the needs of different parts of the diverse community of mineral resource information users. Together these activities provide information ranging from that required for site specific land planning decisions to that required for national and international economic decisions.

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. Factors affecting this evolution include changes in the Nation's political and social environment and advances in science and technology (National Research Council, 2001, p. 21-31). For example, expertise that was built in earlier eras to support the search for mineral resources now underpins essential public health-related research by providing systematic information on the composition of earth materials Programs successfully completed in the last 125 years form the basis for the information and expertise with which the MRP will respond to the issues that face our Nation in the next century.

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