Many mineral deposits (excluding coal and other energy minerals, with the exception of uranium) are located within the WLCI area. The mineral extraction industry is yet another factor to be considered in the development of southwestern Wyoming. Although Wyoming has had a rich mining history, with a few notable exceptions, currently the industry is mostly dormant in the WLCI study area and has been for the study’s duration. Despite hundreds of open claims and leases, there are only a few exploration projects and even fewer active mining operations; a major exception, however, is the increased demand for uranium by in situ recovery, which is imposing new demands on the landscape. Understanding the extent of mineralization and historic mining activity allows us to predict the likelihood of continued or future mining development and its associated effects.
More specifically, metals mining (base and precious metals, both underground and placer) in the WLCI area appears to be non-existent unless there are small-scale operations on private lands. No phosphate mines are currently in operation, although just to the west in Idaho there is some activity. (The largest former phosphate mines in southwestern Wyoming, at Leefe and South Mountain, have been reclaimed.) Uranium companies are exploring and developing some areas in the WLCI region, especially south of the Crooks Gap and Green Mountain area in the Great Divide Basin where traditional surface (open-pit) uranium mining operations have given way to in situ recovery projects. In 30 the Great Divide Basin area, production began in 2013 at the Lost Creek in situ recovery (Ur-Energy, Inc.). The only current significant production is occurring west of Green River, where several large companies are mining trona underground and processing it on site to make soda ash. The trona occurs in beds in the Wilkins Peak Member of the Eocene-age Green River Formation. Demand for sand and gravel and aggregates is increasing as infrastructure development associated with natural gas extraction continues in the northwestern WLCI area.
In FY2014, the uranium minerals data were published in a USGS data series, and a USGS open-file report detailing the uranium aspect of our project was approved for publication. An additional report describing the sand and gravel resources (including sand for hydraulic fracturing) has been drafted and will be submitted for review in FY2015. Because mining is a key driver of change, our mineral assessments will help conservation planners and land managers understand and take into account the areas most likely to be affected by future mining development or reclamation from past extraction activities.
Products Completed in FY2014
- Biewick, L.R.H., and Wilson, A.B., 2014, Energy map of southwestern Wyoming, Part B -- Oil and gas, oil shale, uranium, and solar: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 843, 20 p., 4 pls., at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/843/.
- Wilson, A.B., in press, Uranium in the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative study area, southwestern Wyoming: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1123.
Products Completed in FY2013
- Biewick, L.R.H., and Wilson, A.B., 2014, Energy map of southwestern Wyoming, Part B -- Oil, gas, oil shale, uranium, and solar: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series XXX (in revision).
- Wilson, A.B., 2014, Uranium in the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative study area, Southwest Wyoming: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-XXXX (in press).
- Wilson, A.B., 2013, Mineral resources of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) study area -- Past, present, and future: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Denver, Oct. 2013, v. 45, no. 7, p. 539.
Products Completed in FY2012
Products Completed in FY2011
- Wilson, A.B., Uranium in the WLCI study area, SW Wyoming: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report (in review).
- Wilson, A.B., 2012, Mineral resources of WLCI -- Past, present, and future, poster and oral presentation at the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative 2012 Science Workshop, May 14-17, 2012, Rock Springs, Wyo. Workshop report available at https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/54610ad6e4b0ba83040c59f0.
- Corrections and updates to more than 500 records for each of the mine sites have been made in the active USGS Mineral Resources Database System (http://tin.er.usgs.gov/mrds/); countless duplicate records have been consolidated and deleted. For easy retrieval, all current WLCI records have the group code “WLCI.”
- Wilson, A.B., and Biewick, L.R.H., Uranium resources map: U.S. Geological Survey (in review).
- Mineral resources of WLCI Fact Sheet (draft stage).
- Aggregate (sand and gravel) assessment of WLCI (draft stage).
Products Completed in FY2009
- Corrections and updates to 951 records in the USGS public access MRDS database (U.S. Geological Survey, 2011a) at database, http://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/. Countless duplicate records were consolidated and deleted. For easy retrieval, all current WLCI records have the group code “WLCI."
- Uranium resources map (draft stage in collaboration with Laura Biewick, USGS Energy Resources Program).
- Mineral resources of WLCI Fact Sheet (draft stage).
- Mineral resources of WLCI poster or talk for May WLCI workshop (draft stage).
- Aggregate (sand and gravel) assessment of WLCI (draft stage). Products Completed in FY2010
- Update of the U.S. Geological Survey, 2010, Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS): U.S. Geological Survey public access database, online at http://tin.er.usgs.gov/mrds/.
- Data for all of the mines and prospects visited are in the USGS NewMRDS database. Unrestricted versions of the database are available at http://tin.er.usgs.gov/mrds and http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2001/ofr-01-0497. Revisions and elimination of duplicate entries are currently in progress. Summaries of each of the mineral districts are in progress and will be incorporated into the database as "district" records.
- Wilson, A.B., 2009, Overview of mineral resources for the WLCI study area: Poster and abstract, May, 2009, USGS Science Workshop, Laramie, Wyo.
- Revisions to the U.S. Geological Survey New Mineral Resources Data System (http://tin.er.usgs.gov/mrds).