Mining is often the first link in the chain of production, contributing the raw materials for use in everything from cell phones to aeroplanes. With a projected 2018 revenue of US$642 billion, the extraction of metals is an essential primary industry that employs millions worldwide.
Currently, the mining industry is on a cyclical upswing caused by the intensive infrastructure development in emerging economies around the world as well as a 4 per cent growth in global GDP.
Until 2012, when Nicky Oppenheimer sold his stake in DeBeers, family business played a part in the world of big mining. Now, however, it is the domain of publically traded multinational corporations. Here is a list of the top ten largest mining companies in the world:
10. Zijin Mining Group Company Limited
Revenue (2017): US$14.5 billion
Number of Employees: 21,455
Headquartered in Longyan, Zijin Mining Group focuses on the extraction of gold, copper and zinc. The company operates eight gold mines, three copper mines, two integrated gold and copper mines and four other base metal mines.
Founded in 1986 as Shanghang County Mining, today Zijin Mining Group is China’s leading metal producer and ranks third among the world’s public gold producers on Forbes Global 2000 list.
Zijin reported a first-half-year profit increase of 68 per cent in 2018, and by August 24th, the group ranked first in revenue and second in profit among publicly listed gold-mining companies globally.
9. Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO)
Revenue (2017): US$14.64 billion
Number of Employees: 18,562
CODELCO formed in 1976, the result of a merger between foreign-owned copper companies that nationalised in 1971. Headquartered in Santiago, the state-owned company is one of the world’s largest producers of copper and molybdenum.
There are currently seven mines operating under the CODELCO banner, and the company exports a range of products from copper concentrates to sulphuric acid. In 2017, CODELCO produced 1,842,075 metric tons of fine copper.
Revenue (2017): US$16.4 billion
Number of Employees: 25,200
Freeport Sulphur (renamed Freeport Minerals Company in 1971) was founded in 1912, and established in the city of Freeport, Texas near its mining operations. Expansion through mergers and acquisitions followed until 1988, when the resulting company, Freeport-McMoRan (an abbreviation of McWilliams, Moffett and Rankin, the company’s owners) was created.
Now based in Phoenix, Arizona, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. produces copper, gold and molybdenum with twelve mines located in North America, South America and Indonesia. In addition to extraction, the company also operates smelting and refining facilities in Spain and is the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer.
7. Anglo American
Country: United Kingdom
Revenue (2017): US$26.24 billion
Number of Employees: 69,000
Headquartered in London, Anglo American produces diamonds, copper, platinum group metals, iron ore, manganese, coal and nickel through mining operations in Africa, Australia and the Americas.
Established in 1917 by Entrepreneur Ernest Oppenheimer, Anglo American was under family influence until 2011 when Ernest’s grandson, Nicky Oppenheimer, retired from the company’s board to oversee their diamond affiliate, DeBeers. Nicky Oppenheimer would later sell his stake in DeBeers to Anglo American for $5.1 billion dollars in 2012, divesting his family’s interests in the diamond trade. Currently, Nicky Oppenheimer owns a one per cent stake in the company his grandfather founded.
Anglo American has ranked on Fortune’s Global 500 list for 17 years and took top honours at Australia’s 2018 Innovation Awards.
6. China Shenhua Energy Company
Revenue (2017): US$30 billion
Number of Employees: 89,057
China Shenhua Energy Company (CSEC) operates six business divisions: coal, power, railway, port, shipping and coal chemicals. The company owns and operates coal mines in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shaanxi Chinese provinces, and these account for more than 60 per cent of the company’s revenue.
Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Beijing, CSEC is a subsidiary of Shenhua Group Corporation and is the largest state-owned mining enterprise in China.
5. Jiangxi Copper Corporation Limited
Revenue (2017): US$31.35 billion
Number of Employees: 20,880
Established in 1979, and headquartered in Guixi, Jiangxi Province, Jiangxi Copper Corporation Limited (JCCL) is the largest copper producer in China.
JCCL reported its net profits for 2017 of 1.60 billion yuan (approximately 254.34 million dollars). This is up an incredible 104.6 per cent from the previous year. The company was also granted a total of 42 patents in 2017.
4. Vale S.A.
Revenue (2017): US$33.96 billion
Number of Employees: 73,596
Vale S.A. is engaged in the exploration for and production of coal, cobalt, gold, silver, platinum group metals, fertilisers, iron ore and nickel. A private-sector, publicly traded company, Vale is based in Rio de Janeiro and operates in approximately 30 countries.
Vale was Established in 1942 and is the world’s number one producer of iron ore, iron pellets and nickel.
Revenue (2017): US$38.29 billion
Number of Employees: 26,146
Formerly BHP Billiton, BHP was formed in 1851 from two small mining companies. Now a world leader in resources, BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary) extracts and processes minerals as well as oil and gas products and exports globally.
Headquartered in Melbourne, BHP ranks 296 on Fortune’s Global 500 list and is the world’s leading mining company based on market capitalisation at USD 87.68 billion.
2. Rio Tinto
Revenue (2017): US$40 billion
Number of Employees: 46,807
Rio Tinto (Red River) was founded in 1873 with the purchase of a copper mine in Spain. Through the construction of new processing facilities and the introduction of modern techniques, the mine became the world’s number one copper producer from 1877 to 1891. Today, Rio Tinto is engaged in the mining and production of aluminium, iron ore, copper, uranium, coal and diamonds in 35 countries across six continents.
In 2018, Rio Tinto began preliminary work on its first intelligent mine. Incorporating the latest in advanced mining technology that utilises automation and robotics, the mine will be a new production hub for Rio Tinto in Australia.
Revenue (2017): US$80.46 billion
Number of Employees: 82,681
Glencore owns and operates 150 mining, metallurgy and agricultural sites across 50 countries. Headquartered in Baar, Glencore was founded in 1974 as a trading company. Today, the company produces and markets more than 90 commodities.
Established as Marc Rich & Co AG, the business’s initial focus was ferrous and non-ferrous metals as well as minerals and crude oil. After acquiring the Dutch grain trading company Granaria and becoming Glencore Agriculture. Management procured Marc Rich’s stake in 1993 and changed the company’s name to Glencore.
In 2017, Glencore recorded USD 205.47 billion in revenue, with 80.46 billion of that coming from their mining operations. Ranked 14 on Fortune’s Global 500 list, Glencore recently secured awards of excellence for their operations in New South Wales, Australia.