Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Mineral resources of North America

Brian J. Skinner
Brian J. Skinner
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520
Search for other works by this author on:
January 01, 1989


The number of mineral deposits, large and small, discovered in North America over the last half millennium has not been tallied, but it must be in the hundreds of thousands. Most discoveries are small and of no more than local importance, but some are giants. As a result, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and the United States have at one time or another each been the world′s leading producer of one or more mineral resources. The complex diversity and the remarkable plenty of the deposits played a vital role in the development of North America′s vibrant societies. From the time of the first European settlers to the present, our use of, and dependence on, mineral resources has grown steadily larger.

Mineral consumption in North America has now reached enormous proportions. For the region as a whole, the mass of mineral resources used directly or indirectly in 1988, by every man, woman, and child, weighed 14 metric tons. There are ap-proximately 360 million people in the region. In Canada and the United States, annual per capita consumption is approximately 16 metric tons; in Mexico and the Caribbean, per capita consumption is lower—closer to 10 metric tons—but still considerable. Nonmetallic resources, such as crushed stone, sand, gravel, clay, cement, and plaster, account for a significant fraction of the consumed mass. Such materials tend to be locally produced, and the sources are so large and widespread that there does not seem to be any reason to suspect that supply limitations lie ahead. But even though supply problems may not be cause for concern, continued massive use of mineral resources does raise environmental concerns. The magnitude of mineral products mined each year now exceeds the magnitude of the sediment transported annually to the sea by streams. Inevitably, use of mineral resources is changing the global environment.

You do not currently have access to this article.
Don't already have an account? Register

Figures & Tables


DNAG, Geology of North America

The Geology of North America—An Overview

Albert W. Bally
Albert W. Bally
Department of GeologyP.O. Box 1892Houston, Texas 77251
Search for other works by this author on:
Allison R. Palmer
Allison R. Palmer
Geological Society of America3300 Penrose Place, P.O. Box 9140Boulder, Colorado 80301
Search for other works by this author on:
Geological Society of America
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1989




A comprehensive resource of eBooks for researchers in the Earth Sciences

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

View Article Abstract & Purchase Options

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

Subscribe Now