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Mother Lode Field Office

Mineral Resources

Minerals Program

Managing locatable, leasable and salable mineral resources requires the coordinated efforts of a variety of staff specialists including geologists, rangers, foresters, archaeologists, botanists and wildlife biologists.

Locatable mineral resources occur in mineralized zones within the western Sierra Nevada metamorphic belt and include deposits of copper, lead, zinc, silver, chromite, tungsten, manganese, iron, limestone, asbestos, refractory clay, silica, silver, and , most importantly, gold. Gold occurs in quartz veins in the bed rock and in placer deposits in both ancient and contemporary stream channels. Within the area is the most famous of gold belts in California, the 120 mile long Mother Lode gold belt. Roughly 10,000 mining claims encumber most of the public lands administered by the BLM Mother Lode Field Office. About 70 million ounces of gold have been produced from private and public lands in the area since the California gold rush of 1849.

Leasable mineral resources include oil and natural gas within post Jurassic marine sediments in the Sacramento Valley portion of the Central Valley province. Dozens of natural gas fields are within the boundaries of the lands administered by the Mother Lode Field Office.

Salable mineral materials in the area are suitable for use as construction aggregate and building stone include deposits of slate, granodiorite, andesite, diabase, decomposed granite, sand, gravel, and dredger tailings.