Accordingly, the world’s largest companies involved in iron ore mining are from these two countries. Vale S.A. from Brazil produced nearly 385 million metric tons in 2018. Anglo-Australian mining companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto complete the world’s top three iron ore producers.
While Australia and Brazil are the top exporters of iron ore, China is by far the largest importer. As is the case for many other commodities as well, Chinese demand significantly defines the iron ore market. Nearly two-thirds of global exports go to China – around 1.08 billion metric tons. In comparison to that, the United States consumed only about 38 million metric tons of iron ore in 2018, while total iron ore shipments stood at about 49 million metric tons.
Prices of iron ore showed an average increase over the last 13 years, before decreasing considerably in 2015. The price of iron ore reached a record high during this decade in 2011, when the average price was 168 U.S. dollars. In 2018, the iron ore price was about 70 U.S. dollars per dry metric ton unit. As of July 2019, the iron ore price sat at about 120 U.S. dollars per dry metric ton.