United States Bureau of Mines
Overview
 
For most of the 20th century, the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) was the primary United States Government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 agency conducting scientific research and disseminating information on the extraction, processing, use, and conservation of mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 resources
Natural resource
Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

.
Founded on May 16, 1910, through the Organic Act (Public Law 179), to deal with a wave of catastrophic mine
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 disasters, the mission of the Bureau of Mines expanded over the years to include:
  • The conduct of research to enhance the safety, health, and environmental impact of mining and processing of minerals and materials.
  • The collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about mining and processing of more than 100 mineral commodities across the Nation and in more than 185 countries around the world.
  • Analysis of the impact of proposed mineral-related laws and regulations upon the national interest.
  • Production, conservation, sale, and distribution of helium
    Helium
    Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

     for essential government activities


From its creation, the USBM was viewed, both nationally and internationally, as the focal point for new and emerging science and technology in the minerals field.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
For most of the 20th century, the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) was the primary United States Government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 agency conducting scientific research and disseminating information on the extraction, processing, use, and conservation of mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 resources
Natural resource
Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

.

Summary

Founded on May 16, 1910, through the Organic Act (Public Law 179), to deal with a wave of catastrophic mine
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 disasters, the mission of the Bureau of Mines expanded over the years to include:
  • The conduct of research to enhance the safety, health, and environmental impact of mining and processing of minerals and materials.
  • The collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about mining and processing of more than 100 mineral commodities across the Nation and in more than 185 countries around the world.
  • Analysis of the impact of proposed mineral-related laws and regulations upon the national interest.
  • Production, conservation, sale, and distribution of helium
    Helium
    Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

     for essential government activities


From its creation, the USBM was viewed, both nationally and internationally, as the focal point for new and emerging science and technology in the minerals field. Since entering competition in 1978, the Bureau of Mines won 35 R&D 100 Awards, given annually by R&D Magazine for the 100 most important research innovations of the year. This achievement is especially impressive considering the small size of the Bureau's research budget, compared to those of competing organizations, such as E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
DuPont
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company , commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. DuPont was the world's third largest chemical company based on market capitalization and ninth based on revenue in 2009...

, Westinghouse Electric Corporation
Westinghouse Electric (1886)
Westinghouse Electric was an American manufacturing company. It was founded in 1886 as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by George Westinghouse. The company purchased CBS in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997...

, General Electric Company
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

, Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi, Ltd.
is a Japanese multinational conglomerate headquartered in Marunouchi 1-chome, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The company is the parent of the Hitachi Group as part of the larger DKB Group companies...

, the Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 (NASA).

Closure of USBM

"We leave knowing that the proud accomplishments of this agency did make a difference in the quality of life we now enjoy, and they will continue to do so well into the 21st century." — USBM Director Rhea Graham


In September 1995, Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 voted to close the Bureau of Mines and to transfer certain functions to other Federal agencies. With USBM's closure, almost $100 million, or 66%, of its 1995 programs ceased, and approximately 1,000 of its employees were dismissed. Certain specific health, safety, and materials programs were transferred to the Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

, and certain minerals information activities moved to the U.S. Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 and the Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America's public lands, totaling approximately , or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state and private...

. The Bureau's archive of mining maps was transferred to the National Mine Map Repository
National Mine Map Repository
The National Mine Map Repository is part of the United States Department of the Interior , Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement...

 (NMMR), a part of the Office of Surface Mining
Office of Surface Mining
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is a branch of the United States Department of the Interior...

 (OSM). Closure of the Bureau of Mines, and the accompanying transfers of functions and employee layoffs were essentially complete in March 1996.

The Bureau's Minerals Information functions were transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in early 1996. The "Mineral Industry Surveys," "Mineral Commodity Summaries," and the "Minerals Yearbook" continued to be published.

Additional legislation is pending in Congress that would terminate the Government's production of refined helium and begin the sale of crude helium.

Proposed re-establishment

On May 28, 2010, Senator Jay Rockefeller
Jay Rockefeller
John Davison "Jay" Rockefeller IV is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984, while in office as Governor of West Virginia, a position he held from 1977 to 1985...

 (D-WV) released a list of proposed changes to mine safety laws including re-establishing the Bureau of Mines.

A legacy of accomplishments

Since its founding, the numerous accomplishments of the Bureau of Mines have included the identification and development of many new processes, including:
  • Technologies that contributed to reduction of fatalities in mine disasters
    Mining accident
    A mining accident is an accident that occurs during the process of mining minerals.Thousands of miners die from mining accidents each year, especially in the processes of coal mining and hard rock mining...

     by 97 percent, from 3,000 in 1907 to 98 in 1993.
  • Self-rescue equipment to allow miner
    Mining
    Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

    s to continue to breathe when caught in underground disasters.
  • Low-cost methods to extract radium
    Radium
    Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

     for cancer
    Cancer
    Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

     treatment.
  • Production processes for titanium
    Titanium
    Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

    , which is critical for aerospace
    Aerospace
    Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

     and automobile
    Automobile
    An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

     manufacturing, and zirconium
    Zirconium
    Zirconium is a chemical element with the symbol Zr and atomic number 40. The name of zirconium is taken from the mineral zircon. Its atomic mass is 91.224. It is a lustrous, grey-white, strong transition metal that resembles titanium...

    , which is essential to nuclear
    Nuclear navy
    Nuclear navy, or nuclear powered navy consists of ships powered by relatively small onboard nuclear reactors known as naval reactors. The concept was revolutionary for naval warfare when first proposed, as it meant that these vessels did not need to stop for fuel like their conventional...

     naval vessels.
  • Techniques to recover strategic and critical minerals, such as cobalt
    Cobalt
    Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

     and chromium
    Chromium
    Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

    , to reduce U.S. vulnerability to import blockages in international crises, especially during the Cold War
    Cold War
    The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

    .
  • Construction of manmade wetland
    Wetland
    A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

    s to limit pollution of waterway
    Waterway
    A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

    s by acid mine drainage from nearby mining and mineral-processing operations.
  • Methods to minimize damage from subsidence
    Subsidence
    Subsidence is the motion of a surface as it shifts downward relative to a datum such as sea-level. The opposite of subsidence is uplift, which results in an increase in elevation...

    , the sinking of the surface of the earth above underground mines.
  • Improved recycling
    Recycling
    Recycling is processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution and water pollution by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse...

     of metals, plastic and paper from municipal wastes, including a technology, now used around the world, to recycle municipal solid waste.
  • Non-intrusive ways to recover minerals without disturbing the surface of the land.
  • Use of bacteria to remove arsenic and cyanide from waste waters on public and private lands.
  • Uncovering the world's largest deposits of lead
    Lead
    Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

     and zinc
    Zinc
    Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

     at Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

    's Red Dog Creek
    Red Dog mine
    The Red Dog mine is a zinc and lead mine located in a remote region of the Arctic, within the boundaries of the Red Dog Mine census-designated place in the Northwest Arctic Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska....

    , leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investments for mine development.
  • Karrick process
    Karrick process
    The Karrick process is a low-temperature carbonization and pyrolysis process of carbonaceous materials. Although primarily meant for coal carbonization, it also could be used for processing of oil shale, lignite or any carbonaceous materials. These are heated at to in the absence of air to...

     (See Synthetic Liquid Fuels Program
    Synthetic Liquid Fuels Program
    The Synthetic Liquid Fuels Program was a program run by the United States Bureau of Mines to create the technology to produce synthetic fuel from coal. It was initiated in 1944 during World War II...

    )


These and other USBM accomplishments during the past century help ensure that, while the Bureau may have closed its doors, it leaves a valuable legacy.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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