Companies in this industry develop mine sites; mine and quarry coal, metal ores, and nonmetallic minerals; and prepare extracted materials. Major companies include US-based Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining, and Southern Copper, as well as Barrick Gold (Canada), BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (both dually headquartered in Australia and the UK), Coal India, Glencore (Switzerland), Norilsk (Russia), and Vale (Brazil).
Demand for coal comes mainly from generators of electricity. Metal ore demand is driven by industrial production. Nonmetallic mineral demand is driven by construction spending and agricultural spending on fertilizers. 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 products include coal, nonmetallic minerals, and metal ores. Within the coal sector, primary products are bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, and lignite. Major nonmetallic minerals are crushed and broken limestone; construction sand and gravel; crushed and broken granite; potash, soda, and borate; and phosphate rock. Crushed stone, sand, and gravel are also referred to as aggregates. Copper and nickel, gold ore, and iron ore are major metallic ore products.