USGS invests $2M for mine waste critical mineral identification

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has invested over US$2 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 14 states to look for critical mineral resource potential in mine waste.

The funding will allow the USGS and states to better map the locations of mine waste and measure the potential for critical minerals that might exist in that mine waste. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $510.7 million to the USGS to advance scientific innovation and map critical minerals, including through USGS’s Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (MRI), a partnership between the USGS and state geological surveys to modernize our understanding of the nation’s fundamental geologic framework and improve knowledge of domestic critical mineral resources both in the ground and in mine waste.

“These agreements are allowing us and the states to take a second look at places that were once known for their mineral production to see if there might yet be some new critical mineral potential, just waiting to be found,” said Darcy McPhee, program manager for the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), which provided the funding for the agreements.  

Earth MRI is investing $74 million per year, of which $64 million comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  

The USGS first began its work by creating a national mine waste inventory that identifies where mine waste exists on the landscape. Using the USMIN database, USGS scientists plotted locations for historic mine features, including known tailing piles, along with which minerals were produced there. Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington will all add data from their own mine waste inventories to the national inventory. 


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