In terms of volume, the most exploited commodities worldwide are coal, iron ore, bauxite, and potash. China and the United States are the top coal producing countries. Iron ore mining is also dominated by China, with Australia in second place. Thus, China is becoming the top mining country for many commodities, especially for the highly demanded rare earths, of which China produced over 83 percent of the global production in 2016. Additionally, China is the world’s leading country in the mine production of gold.
The industry’s leading companies based on market value are Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, followed by China Shenhua Energy. As of June 2017, BHP Billiton had a market value of 87.68 billion U.S. dollars. Measured by revenue, the top company active in mining worldwide is Anglo-Swiss Glencore, generating some 153 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. However, it has to be taken into consideration that a large share of Glencore’s revenues come from commodity trading. Interestingly, Newmont Mining is the only U.S. mining company among the global leaders.
The mining and metals sector has been very vibrant in terms of mergers and acquisitions over the last few years. In 2010, a record high of 1,123 deals worldwide was reported, a number which stood at only 392 about ten years earlier. In 2016, some 477 deals worth around 44 billion U.S. dollars were done. In terms of value, the major commodities targeted by these transactions included gold, coal, and copper.
In the United States, mining has always played an important role. Its relevance increases all the more whenever mining includes the extraction of oil and gas, and support activities for mining, as some sources do. The total U.S. mining gross output in 2015 amounted to 449 billion U.S. dollars, a notable decrease from the gross output in the previous year. In the same year, the whole sector employed around 748 thousand people.