A few sources of basic data on worldwide raw materials production and consumption exist that are independently developed and freely available to the public. This column is an introduction to the types of information available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and explains how the data are assembled. The kind of information prepared by the USGS is essential to U.S. materials flow studies because the data make it possible to conduct these studies within a global context. The data include primary and secondary (scrap) production, consumption and stocks (mostly limited to the United States unless calculated), trade (not readily available for all countries), and prices for more than 80 mineral commodities. Materials flow studies by USGS specialists using these data are continuing (http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/mflow/). Figure 1 shows from where the data are collected and where they are used. Minerals information was downloaded by users 5.8 million times from USGS minerals information Web pages in 2008.
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Using U.S. Geological Survey data in material flow analysis: An introduction