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Overview

The USGS needs to expand expertise and build additional capacity and methodology to undertake quantitative and qualitative mineral resource assessments. Since the development and wide-acceptance of the 3-Part form of assessment, geospatial technologies and statistical techniques have become fundamental to mineral resource assessment and exploration targeting. These technologies and techniques can better integrate mineralizing system concepts into existing USGS assessment methods, as well as provide a foundation on which to build new assessment approaches, methods, and tools. This project will focus on improving USGS mineral resource assessments and assessment expertise and capacity by:

  • Modernizing procedures and products by incorporating geospatial/geostatistical techniques into the 3-Part form of assessment (including, but not limited to, delineation of assessment tracts).
  • Updating and expanding methodologies for estimating numbers of undiscovered deposits and associated resources.
  • Enhancing and adding measures and reporting of uncertainty and confidence in source data and results.
  • Developing standards and a strategy for re-building and updating grade and tonnage databases and models, as needed, to support more accurate resource estimates.
  • Adding filters to express a measure of mineral resource economic feasibility.
  • Developing techniques to assess stratiform mineral deposit types.
  • Developing techniques to integrate the results of mineral assessments with environmental, hydrogeologic, socioeconomic, and/or other considerations to perform multiresource, interdisciplinary resource assessments.
  • Developing technical tools and instruction materials to build USGS capacity and disseminate USGS expertise through training workshops, scientific exchanges, and collaborative assessment projects.

Project Activities

Methodology and Data

Contact: Mark Mihalasky, mjm@usgs.gov

  1. Develop methodology to address resource assessment of unconventional deposit/mining types, such as resources derived from stratiform deposits and solution mining (e.g., salts, uranium).
  2. Develop a collaborative strategy with the National Minerals Information Center and other Mineral Resources Program projects to collect, process, and update grade-tonnage models and other critical minerals information databases nearterm project needs and priority deposit types, as needed.
  3. Reserve-growth resource growth modeling and estimation.
  4. Survey and evaluation of recently-developed (last 5-10 years) assessment approaches, methodologies, and techniques, including relevant software and utilities.

Tools and Assessment Training

Contact: Jane Hammarstrom, jhammars@usgs.gov

  1. Review and validate new resource simulation software (ProMiner).
  2. Integrate economic filter criteria into resource simulation software.
  3. Development of tools, utilities, and guidance documents for mineral resource assessments.
  4. Mineral resource assessment facilitation, participation, and identification and evaluation of USGS mineral resource assessment training and staffing needs.

Geospatial Modeling

Contact: Gilpin Robinson, grobinso@usgs.gov

  1. Integration of geospatial methodologies into assessment methods, including the USGS 3-Part framework.
  2. Development of measures to better identify, reduce, and communicate uncertainty and confidence in assessment results.
  3. Develop spatial analysis to facilitate tract delineation, disaggregation, and aggregation of resource estimates.
  4. Develop spatial validation methods for assessment methodologies.
  5. Develop methodology to evaluate the relative development potential of metallic and industrial mineral deposits as a function of geographic, economic filter, and infrastructure criteria.
  6. Scoping activity to evaluate and compare prospectivity mapping techniques for resource assessment.

Multi-Resource Interdisciplinary Integrated Assessment (MRIA)

Contact: Mark Mihalasky, mjm@usgs.gov

  1. Identification and evaluation of problematic issues specific to multiresource-multidisciplinary Integrated assessments (such as the definition of a common assessment unit; resource valuation; measurement and quantification of error and uncertainty; effects of assessment data with disparate scale and resolution; representation of at-distance effects of assessment data).
  2. Develop strategies and metrics to link mineral resource assessments with other biophysical resource assessments, including ecologic, hydrogeologic, and socioeconomic aspects.
  3. Evaluation of methods to present assessment results in the form of scenarios.

Global Mineral Resource Assessment Project Wrap-Up and Publications

Contact: Jane Hammarstrom, jhammars@usgs.gov

Our objective is to complete and publish the last of the Global Mineral Resource Assessment Project reports.

Journal Articles, Reports, Book Chapters

Cocker, M.D., Orris, G.J., and Dunlap, Pamela, with contributions from Lipin, B.R., Ludington, Steve, Ryan, R.J., Słowakiewicz, Mirosław, Spanski, G.T., Wynn, Jeff, and Yang, Chao, 2017, Geology and undiscovered resource assessment of the potash-bearing Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets Basins, Belarus and Ukraine: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–BB, 116 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090BB.

Cocker, M.D., Orris, G.J., and Wynn, J., 2016, U.S. Geological Survey assessment of global potash production and resources—A significant advancement for global development and a sustainable future: Geological Society of America Special Paper Volume 520, p. 89-98, doi:10.1130/2016.2520(10).

Coyan, J.A., Zientek, M.L., and Mihalasky, M.J., 2017, Spatiotemporal Analysis of Changes in Lode Mining Claims Around the McDermitt Caldera, Northern Nevada and Southern Oregon: Natural Resources Research, 26(3), p. 319-337, doi:10.1007/s11053-017-9324-9.

Dicken, C.L., Dunlap, Pamela, Parks, H.L., Hammarstrom, J.M., and Zientek, M.L., 2016, Spatial database for a global assessment of undiscovered copper resources: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–Z, 29 p., and GIS data, available at https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090Z.

Ellefsen, K.J., 2017, Probability calculations for three-part mineral resource assessments: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 7, chap. C15, 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm7C15.

Ellefsen, K.J., 2017, User's guide for MapMark4—An R package for the probability calculations in three-part mineral resource assessments: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 7, chap. C14, 23 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm7C14.

Hall, S.M., Mihalasky, M.J., Tureck, K.R., Hammarstrom, J.M., and Hannon, M.R., 2017, Genetic and grade and tonnage models for sandstone-hosted roll-type uranium deposits, Texas Coastal Plain, USA: Ore Geology Reviews, 80, p. 716-753, doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2016.06.013.

Hall, S.M., Mihalasky, M.J., and Van Gosen, B.S., 2017, Assessment of undiscovered resources in calcrete uranium deposits, Southern High Plains region of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3078, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173078.

Hammarstrom, J.M., Bookstrom, A.A., DeMarr, M.W., Dicken, C.L., Ludington, S., Robinson, Jr., G.R., and Zientek, M.L., with contributions from Cox, D.P., Manipon, C.J.C., Rollan, L.A., Sakimoto, T., Takagi, T., and Watanabe, Y., 2014, Porphyry copper assessment of East and Southeast Asia—Philippines, Taiwan (Republic of China), Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Japan: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–P, 241 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090P.

Meinert, L.D., Robinson, G.R., and Nassar, N.T., 2016, Mineral resources: Reserves, peak production and the future: Resources, 5(1), 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5010014.

Mihalasky, M.J., Ludington, Steve, Alexeiev, D.V., Frost, T.P., Light, T.D., Briggs, D.A., Hammarstrom, J.M., and Wallis, J.C., with contributions from Bookstrom, A.A., and Panteleyev, Andre, 2015, Porphyry copper assessment of northeast Asia—Far East Russia and Northeasternmost China: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–W, 104 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090W.

Mihalasky, M.J., Ludington, Steve, Hammarstrom, J.M., Alexeiev, D.V., Frost, T.P., Light, T.D., Robinson, G.R., Jr., Briggs, D.A., Wallis, J.C., and Miller, R.J., with contributions from Bookstrom, A.A., Panteleyev, Andre, Chitalin, Andre, Seltmann, Reimar, Guangsheng, Y., Changyun, L., Jingwen, M., Jinyi, L., Keyan, X., Ruizhao, Q., Jianbao, S., Gangyi, S., and Yuliang, D., 2015, Porphyry Copper Assessment of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt and eastern Tethysides—China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and India: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–X, 106 p. and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090X.

Orris, G.J., Cocker, M.D., Dunlap, P., Wynn, Jeff, Spanski, G.T., Briggs, D.A., and Gass, L., with contributions from Bliss, J.D., Bolm, K.S., Yang, C., Lipin, B.R., Ludington, S., Miller, R.J., and Slowakiewicz, M., 2014, Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–S, 76 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090S.

Orris, G.J., Dunlap, Pamela, and Wallis, J.C., 2015, Phosphate occurrence and potential in the region of Afghanistan, including parts of China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, with a section on geophysics by Jeff Wynn: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1121, 70 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151121.

Taylor, R.D., Goldfarb, R.J., Monecke, T., Fletcher, I.R., Cosca, M.A., and Kelly, N.M., 2015, Application of U-Th-Pb Phosphate Geochronology to Young Orogenic Gold Deposits: New Age Constraints on the Formation of the Grass Valley Gold District, Sierra Nevada Foothills Province, California: Economic Geology, 110(5), 1313-1337, doi:10.2113/econgeo.110.5.1313.

U.S. Geological Survey Assessment Team, 2015, Assessment of undiscovered sandstone-hosted uranium resources in the Texas Coastal Plain, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015–3069, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20153069.

USGS Global Mineral Resource Assesment Project: complete list of global mineral resource assessment project products.

Wynn, Jeff, Orris, G.J., Dunlap, Pamela, Cocker, M.D., and Bliss, J.D., 2016, Geology and undiscovered resource assessment of the potash-bearing Central Asia Salt Basin, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report SIR 2010–5090–AA, 106 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090AA.

Zürcher, L., Bookstrom A.A., Hammarstrom, J.M., Mars, J.C., Ludington, S., Zientek, M.L., Dunlap, P., and Wallis, J.C., with contributions from Drew, L.J., Sutphin, D.M., Berger, B.R., Herrington, R.J., Billa, M., Kuşcu, I., Moon, C.J., and Richards, J.P., 2015, Porphyry copper assessment of the Tethys region of western and southern Asia: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–V, 232 p., and spatial data, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20105090V.

Data Release

Mihalasky, M.J., Orris, G.J., Briggs, D.A., Tucker, R.D., Renaud, Karine, and Verstraeten, I.M., 2017, Rare earth element mineral occurrence database of the Tien Shan region, Central Asia: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7TM7913.

Abstracts and Presentations

Ellefsen, K., Phillips, J.D., Mihalasky, M.J., and Robinson, G.R., 2015, Improvements to probabilistic estimation of undiscovered mineral resources: International Association for Mathematical Geosciences, 17th Annual Conference, 5-13 September, 2015, Freiberg (Saxony), Germany.

Elliott, B.A., Mihalasky, M.J., and Hall, S.M., 2016, An Assessment of Undiscovered Uranium Resources in the Texas Gulf Coast: Part 1—Geologic Context: 2016 Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Annual Convention, 18-20 September, 2016, Corpus Christi, TX. View Elliott 2016 abstract. [PDF file, 170 KB]

Hammastrom, J.M., 2015, The USGS Global Copper Assessment Project: International Copper Association, January 2015.

Hammarstrom, J.M., 2015, Mineral Resource Assessment: World Bank International Conference on Sustainable Development of Natural Resources, 3-4 February, 2015, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. [Presentation prepared by Hammarstrom and given by S. Wacaster in Spanish]

Hammarstrom, J.M., Ludington, S., Mihalasky, M.J., and Robinson, G.R., Jr., 2017, Porphyry copper potential of Asia: Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) 2017: Ore Deposits of Asia: China and Beyond, 17-20 September, 2017, Beijing, China. View Hammarstrom 2017 SEG abstract 1. [PDF file, 14 kb]

Hammarstrom, J.M., Mars, J.C., Robinson Jr., G.R., Ludington, S., Zürcher, L., Folger, H., Gettings, M., Solano, F., and Kress, T., 2015, Copper in the Southern Basin and Range of the United States—Is anything Left?: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 47, No. 7, p. 519. View Hammarstrom 2015 GSA abstract.

Hammarstrom, J.M., and Robinson, G.R., 2017, Porphyry copper: Grade and tonnage models revisited: Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) 2017: Ore Deposits of Asia: China and Beyond, 17-20 September, 2017, Beijing, China. View Hammarstrom 2017 SEG abstract 2. [PDF file, 18 KB]

Mars, J., Hammarstrom, J., Robinson, G., Ludington, S., Zürcher, L., Folger, H., Gettings, M., Solano, F., and Kress, T., 2017, New method to integrate remotely sensed hydrothermal alteration mapping into quantitative mineral resource assessments: 2017 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 23-28 July 2017, Fort Worth, TX.

Mars, J.C., Robinson Jr., G.R., Hammarstrom, J.M., Ludington, S., Zürcher, L., Folger, H., Gettings, M.E., Solano, F., and Kress, T., 2015, Integration of remote-sensing alteration mapping into new geospatial-statistical, quantitative mineral resource methods: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 47, No. 7, p. 74. View Mars 2015 GSA abstract.

Mihalasky, M., 2017, An Assessment of Undiscovered Uranium Resources in the Texas Golf Coast: Quanitative Mineral Resource Assessment: Nambian Uranium Institute, Isaac Newton Lecture Series, 2 March, 2017, Swakopmund, Nambia. [Invited Speaker]

Mihalasky, M.J., Elliott, B.A., and Hall, S.M., 2016, An Assessment of Undiscovered Uranium Resources in the Texas Gulf Coast: Part 2—Assessment Approach and Results: 2016 Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Annual Convention, 18-20 September, 2016, Corpus Christi, TX. View Mihalasky 2016 abstract. [PDF file, 169 KB]

Mihalasky, M., 2017, Seminar on Mineral resource Assessment and USGS Mineral Deposit Models: Geological Survey of Algeria, 26-30 March, 2017, Algiers, Algeria. [Invited Co-presenter]

Taylor, R.D., Goldfarb, R.J., Monecke, T., 2015, Geochronology and geochemical constraints on formation of the Grass Valley gold district, Sierra Nevada foothills province, California, USA: Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits, 13th Biennial Meeting, 24-27 August, 2015, Nancy, France, Proceedings Volume 1, p. 217-220.

Tucker, R.D., Roig, J-Y., and Peters, S.G., 2015, The geology and mineral resources of Madagascar presented in three new maps (1:1m scale): Bedrock geology, metallogenic substances and industrial mineral deposits: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 47, No. 7, p. 116. View Tucker 2015 GSA abstract.

Zürcher, L., Hammarstrom, J.M., Mars, J.C., Ludington, S.D., and Zientek, M.L., 2016, Relationship Between Porphyry Copper Systems, Crustal Preservation Levels, and Amount of Exploration in Magmatic Belts of the Central Tethys Region: Society of Economic Geologists 2016 Conference, 25-28 September 2016, Çeşme, Turkey. View Zürcher 2016 SEG abstract. [PDF file, 127 kb]

Project Contact

Mark Mihalasky
Phone: 509-368-3118
Email: mjm@usgs.gov
Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center

Mineral Resources Program Science Priority

The use of firm, trade, and brand names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government.

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