Companies in this industry develop mine sites, mine and quarry metallic minerals and provide related support services, and prepare minerals for sale. Major companies include Freeport-McMoRan and Newmont Mining (both based in the US), as well as Anglo American (UK), China Molybdenum, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (both dually headquartered in Australia and the UK), Glencore (Switzerland), Grupo Mexico, MMC Norilisk Nickel (Russia), and Vale (Brazil).
Demand is driven by industrial production and economic growth, both domestic and foreign. Individual company profitability depends on volume and operating efficiency. Large companies can afford to discover and develop new deposits and increase reserves. Small companies typically own just one mine, limit exploration to that one property, and operate it as efficiently as possible.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major US products include copper and nickel ores (about 37% of industry revenue), gold ore (33%), and iron ore (16%). Iron ore is used to make steel. Precious metals such as gold and silver are used in jewelry and electronics; copper is commonly used in construction.