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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan Appendix A Summary of MRSP Plan The National Mineral Resource Surveys Program A Plan for Mineral-Resource and Mineral-Environmental Research for National Land-Use, Environmental, and Mineral-Supply Decision Making U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey 1995
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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The United States is continually faced with important decisions regarding the use of Federal lands, environmental protection, and supply of mineral raw materials. The Nation's 740 million acres of public lands have been, and are likely to continue to be, a source for a large share of U.S. mineral production. Land-managing agencies must develop land-use plans that reconcile competing demands for mining and other human activities, while recognizing environmental values and ensuring the sustainability of resources and natural environments. Thus, the Nation's need for minerals must be balanced with environmentally sound methods for extraction. Although mineral supplies are currently abundant, new resource development will be necessary as deposits are depleted. Also, future shortages may occur as demand for resources increases, local or regional political instability curtails supplies, and environmental concerns further restrict mining. The United States must continue to monitor global sources of minerals so that possible shortages are anticipated sufficiently in advance to allow alternative sources or materials to be identified and secured. Our ability to make informed decisions concerning land stewardship, mitigation, and mineral supply ultimately depends on having current, accurate, unbiased information on the location, quality, and quantity of mineral resources, and on the environmental consequences of their development. These national issues are addressed by the U.S. Geological Survey 's (USGS) Mineral Resource Surveys Program (MRSP), which provides objective scientific information to Congress, Federal and State agencies, industry, and the general public on all aspects of mineral resources. In the committee report accompanying the FY 1995 Department of the Interior appropriations bill, the U.S. Congress directed the USGS to develop a program plan for mineral-resource activities. This document presents a comprehensive, balanced, and integrated 5-year plan to address key mineral-resource issues, increase our understanding of the processes that form and destroy mineral deposits, and improve our predictive capabilities to help guide the sustainable development of the Nation's mineral resources and maintain its natural environments. The plan has been reviewed by the USGS, the Department of the Interior, other Federal agencies, and State institutions. Research activities of the Mineral Resource Surveys Program are conducted under four complementary, issue-related subprograms (fig. A): Assessments, Mitigation Studies, Resource Investigations, and Information and Technology Transfer. These subprograms, although responding to different issues, are interrelated and mutually supporting (fig. B). The program structure is designed to eliminate duplication so that information and knowledge acquired by activities conducted under each subprogram are available to all other subprograms. The subprograms are prioritized into a 5-year plan on the basis of national needs (fig. C), redirecting appropriated funds within the MRSP to better address the major minerals-related issues facing the Nation. Assessments will remain the core focus of the MRSP (fig. C), reflecting the continued commitment to meeting the priority needs and requests for mineral-resource and mineral-environmental information by Federal land-managing agencies. The USGS works in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (FS), and other Federal agencies, to conduct and coordinate assessment and related earth-science studies on Federal lands, primarily in response to priorities set by the land-managing agencies. Integrated mineral-resource and mineral-environmental assessments provide the agencies with information on known mineral deposits, predict the probable location and quantity of undiscovered mineral resources, and anticipate the kinds of environmental effects that could result from minerals development.
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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan Figure A. Organization of the Mineral Resource Surveys Program The USGS conducts recurring regional and national assessments to (1) increase knowledge of known and undiscovered mineral resources and their environmental characteristics at regional scales nationwide, (2) develop and improve national digital data bases, and (3) provide quick response to requests from Congress, Federal and State land-managing agencies, industry, and the public for minerals-related information. Mineral-environmental assessments are a new component of the MRSP and were developed in response to requests by Federal land managers. A priority of this 5-year plan is to fully develop the capabilities necessary to meet these priority requests. Mitigation Studies will increase during this 5-year plan (fig. C). This increasing emphasis is in response to: (1) requests from Federal land-managing and regulatory agencies for information to assist them in the mitigation and remediation of environmental impacts of minerals development; (2) Congressional concerns regarding possible environmental hazards associated with inactive and abandoned mine lands, many of which are located on Federal lands; and (3) the need to improve predictive capabilities regarding the environmental impacts of mineral resources and their development. Mitigation Studies provide information to assist governmental efforts to identify hazards on inactive and abandoned mine lands on public lands, to determine their impact on humans and the environment, and to formulate solutions to mitigate their impact. The studies reduce costs by scientifically determining the extent and character of environmental impacts as a basis for developing effective controls. Priority activities include: Development of regional baseline geochemical maps for major areas of inactive and abandoned mines in the United States to assist Federal and State agencies in establishing priorities for reclamation; Development of improved methods to compare and distinguish between natural and human-induced chemical distributions;
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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan Investigations into geologic constraints on remediation plans for priority Federal clean-up sites; Development of geoenvironmental deposit models that characterize the environmental behavior of particular mineral-deposit types to improve predictive capabilities. The scientific information resulting from these investigations assists Federal and State regulatory and land-managing agencies, as well as industry, to more effectively manage the Nation's lands and resources, develop resources in environmentally responsible ways, maintain cleaner water supplies, and design more cost-effective remediation plans. Resource Investigations will decrease during this 5-year plan (fig. C). This decreasing emphasis reflects: (1) the changing priorities of government and industry for increased information on mineral-environmental issues; (2) an immediate need to build mineral-environmental capabilities in other areas of the program to meet client requests; (3) the availability of a large base of mineral-resource information and knowledge gained through 116 years of USGS research; and (4) a current supply of metals generally adequate for short-term needs. The USGS continues to be at the forefront in development of new mineral-deposit concepts and in identifying new regions of mineral-resource potential. This frontier research provides theoretical and conceptual models to improve capabilities to predict where future mineral resources may be found and the kinds of deposits likely to host those resources. Such research is not generally undertaken by the private sector, which focuses its efforts on well-known deposit types in more traditional mineral-producing regions that have more immediate prospect for financial return. Priority mineral-resource investigations include: Figure B. Interrelationships between subprograms of the Mineral Resource Surveys Program
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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan Figure C. Approximate percentage of effort in each of the four subprograms of the MRSP Development of new theories of mineral-deposit formation to define new and unconventional deposit types; Studies of selected mineral districts and regions to test new theories of mineral deposit formation and define new areas with potential for undiscovered mineral resources; Development of new mineral-deposit models and revision of existing models, including tonnage and grade information for well-sampled deposits to improve predictive capabilities; Selective cooperative industry and international mineral-resource investigations to help maintain accurate and current global minerals information. The information provided by USGS resource investigations aids the Federal Government in development of resource policies that maintain secure, reliable, and cost-effective supplies of mineral raw materials. The information also benefits the minerals industry by identifying new deposit types and regions for future exploration. Information and Technology Transfer will remain an important component of the program during this 5-year plan (fig. C). The development and efficient distribution of mineral-resource data bases in digital formats is a major priority of the program. It is also important to improve capabilities to interpret data through scientific visualization techniques such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The MRSP communicates with the users of minerals information to identify their information needs. USGS researchers work to anticipate national needs, identify emerging trends and minerals issues, and ensure that products are relevant and presented in formats appropriate for the user's needs. Important training and outreach activities include: (1) increasing understanding of the significance and limitations of mineral-resource data and information and (2) increasing awareness of local, regional, national, and global minerals-related issues.
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Mineral Resources and Society: A Review of the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program Plan This page in the original is blank.
Representative terms from entire chapter: