Ranked: The Top 20 Mining Companies
Mining companies have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in excellent financial and operational shape and the forecast is even brighter as the economy recovers.
The market is expected to reach a value of nearly $1.86 trillion by 2022, with the increasing demand for minerals for power generation and renewables technology.
In the graphic above, we show the world’s top companies by market capitalization as of June 22, 2021, and the metals they mine.
The Bottom Line: From Smartphones to Food
From roads, hospitals, automobiles, houses, computers, satellites, and even fertilizer for crops, mining provides many of the materials we interact with every day. Copper, iron, rare earth metals, aluminum, and phosphate are just a handful of the mined materials that make modern life and feed the bottom line for mining companies.
The two biggest by market capitalization, BHP ($179B) and Rio Tinto ($132B), both produce a range of commodities, mainly iron ore and copper. The next on the list is also the biggest company in Brazil, Vale ($112B). The miner is the world’s largest producer of iron ore and pellets (small balls of iron ore) used to manufacture steel.
|Company||Market Cap (USD)||Country||Main Mining Activity|
|BHP||$179B||🇦🇺 Australia||iron ore, copper, coal|
|Rio Tinto||$132B||🇦🇺 Australia||iron ore, aluminum, copper|
|Vale||$112B||🇧🇷 Brazil||iron ore, nickel|
|Glencore||$55B||🇨🇭 Switzerland||copper, cobalt, zinc, nickel|
|Norilsk Nickel||$54B||🇷🇺 Russia||palladium, nickel|
|Freeport-McMoRan||$52B||🇺🇸 United States||copper|
|Anglo American||$52B||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||diamonds, copper, platinum, iron ore, coal|
|Fortescue Metals||$51B||🇦🇺 Australia||iron ore|
|Newmont Goldcorp||$50B||🇺🇸 United States||gold|
|Southern Copper||$47B||🇺🇸 United States||copper|
|Zijin Mining Group||$38B||🇨🇳 China||gold, copper|
|Barrick Gold||$37B||🇨🇦 Canada||gold|
|Anglo American Platinum||$28B||🇿🇦 South Africa||platinum, palladium, rhodium|
|Ganfeng Lithium||$24B||🇨🇳 China||lithium|
|Wheaton Precious Metals||$20B||🇨🇦 Canada||gold, silver, palladium, cobalt|
|Antofagasta||$19B||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||copper|
|Ma’aden||$18B||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||gold|
A $57 billion gap separates the top 3 from the rest of the group. In fourth place comes Glencore ($55B) with its mixed operations of trading and mining metals, agricultural products, and oil and gas.
The automotive industry is a big consumer of metals, which explains Norilsk Nickel’s ($54B) fifth place. The company, owned by the wealthiest man in Russia, is the world’s biggest producer of palladium, used in vehicles’ catalytic converters.
Miners also serve the luxury market, with precious metals like gold, silver, and gemstones. Number six on the list, Anglo American ($52B) is one of the world’s leading diamond companies.
In terms of countries, Canada leads the ranking with 4 miners on the list. The United States and Australia come next with 3 companies each.
Charging and Changing the Future of Mining Companies
The United States, Europe, and Asia are making big investments in electrification and power generation. By 2024, almost 33% of the world’s electricity is forecast to come from renewables.
This shift from fossil fuels will require a lot of copper, cobalt, and lithium for batteries. Mining companies are in a position to capitalize as the market expands.
For example, no. 17 in the list, China’s Ganfeng Lithium, the world’s third-largest producer of lithium chemicals for batteries, saw its market capitalization grow more than 25% in 2021.
The energy transition is just beginning, and the materials used in building a more sustainable future will also build up the largest mining companies of tomorrow.
Visualized: What is the Cost of Electric Vehicle Batteries?
The cost of electric vehicle batteries can vary based on size and chemical composition. Here are the battery costs of six popular EV models.
What is the Cost of Electric Vehicle Batteries?
The cost of an electric vehicle (EV) battery pack can vary depending on composition and chemistry.
In this graphic, we use data from Benchmark Minerals Intelligence to showcase the different costs of battery cells on popular electric vehicles.
Some EV owners are taken by surprise when they discover the cost of replacing their batteries.
Depending on the brand and model of the vehicle, the cost of a new lithium-ion battery pack might be as high as $25,000:
|Vehicle||Battery Type||Battery Capacity||Battery Cost||Total Cost of EV|
|2025 Cadillac Escalade IQ||Nickel Cobalt Manganese Aluminum (NCMA)||200 kWh||$22,540||$130,000|
|2023 Tesla Model S||Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA)||100 kWh||$12,030||$88,490|
|2025 RAM 1500 REV||Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM)||229 kWh||$25,853||$81,000|
|2022 Rivian Delivery Van||Lithium Iron phosphate (LFP)||135 kWh||$13,298||$52,690|
|2023 Ford Mustang||Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)||70 kWh||$6,895||$43,179|
|2023 VW ID.4||Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM622)||62 kWh||$8,730||$37,250|
The price of an EV battery pack can be shaped by various factors such as raw material costs, production expenses, packaging complexities, and supply chain stability. One of the main factors is chemical composition.
Graphite is the standard material used for the anodes in most lithium-ion batteries.
However, it is the mineral composition of the cathode that usually changes. It includes lithium and other minerals such as nickel, manganese, cobalt, or iron. This specific composition is pivotal in establishing the battery’s capacity, power, safety, lifespan, cost, and overall performance.
Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) battery cells have an average price of $120.3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide (NCM) has a slightly lower price point at $112.7 per kWh. Both contain significant nickel proportions, increasing the battery’s energy density and allowing for longer range.
At a lower cost are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are cheaper to make than cobalt and nickel-based variants. LFP battery cells have an average price of $98.5 per kWh. However, they offer less specific energy and are more suitable for standard- or short-range EVs.
Which Battery Dominates the EV Market?
In 2021, the battery market was dominated by NCM batteries, with 58% of the market share, followed by LFP and NCA, holding 21% each.
Looking ahead to 2026, the market share of LFP is predicted to nearly double, reaching 38%.
NCM is anticipated to constitute 45% of the market and NCA is expected to decline to 7%.
How Clean is the Nickel and Lithium in a Battery?
This graphic from Wood Mackenzie shows how nickel and lithium mining can significantly impact the environment, depending on the processes used.
How Clean is the Nickel and Lithium in a Battery?
The production of lithium (Li) and nickel (Ni), two key raw materials for batteries, can produce vastly different emissions profiles.
This graphic from Wood Mackenzie shows how nickel and lithium mining can significantly impact the environment, depending on the processes used for extraction.
Nickel Emissions Per Extraction Process
Nickel is a crucial metal in modern infrastructure and technology, with major uses in stainless steel and alloys. Nickel’s electrical conductivity also makes it ideal for facilitating current flow within battery cells.
Today, there are two major methods of nickel mining:
From laterite deposits, which are predominantly found in tropical regions. This involves open-pit mining, where large amounts of soil and overburden need to be removed to access the nickel-rich ore.
From sulphide ores, which involves underground or open-pit mining of ore deposits containing nickel sulphide minerals.
Compared to laterite extraction, sulphide mining typically emits fewer tonnes of CO2 per tonne of nickel equivalent as it involves less soil disturbance and has a smaller physical footprint:
|Ore Type||Process||Product||Tonnes of CO2 per tonne of Ni equivalent|
|Sulphides||Electric / Flash Smelting||Refined Ni / Matte||6|
|Laterite||High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL)||Refined Ni / Mixed Sulpide Precipitate / Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate||13.7|
|Laterite||Blast Furnace / RKEF||Nickel Pig Iron / Matte||45.1|
Nickel extraction from laterites can impose significant environmental impacts, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and soil erosion.
Additionally, laterite ores often contain high levels of moisture, requiring energy-intensive drying processes to prepare them for further extraction. After extraction, the smelting of laterites requires a significant amount of energy, which is largely sourced from fossil fuels.
Although sulphide mining is cleaner, it poses other environmental challenges. The extraction and processing of sulphide ores can release sulphur compounds and heavy metals into the environment, potentially leading to acid mine drainage and contamination of water sources if not managed properly.
In addition, nickel sulphides are typically more expensive to mine due to their hard rock nature.
Lithium Emissions Per Extraction Process
Lithium is the major ingredient in rechargeable batteries found in phones, hybrid cars, electric bikes, and grid-scale storage systems.
Today, there are two major methods of lithium extraction:
From brine, pumping lithium-rich brine from underground aquifers into evaporation ponds, where solar energy evaporates the water and concentrates the lithium content. The concentrated brine is then further processed to extract lithium carbonate or hydroxide.
Hard rock mining, or extracting lithium from mineral ores (primarily spodumene) found in pegmatite deposits. Australia, the world’s leading producer of lithium (46.9%), extracts lithium directly from hard rock.
Brine extraction is typically employed in countries with salt flats, such as Chile, Argentina, and China. It is generally considered a lower-cost method, but it can have environmental impacts such as water usage, potential contamination of local water sources, and alteration of ecosystems.
The process, however, emits fewer tonnes of CO2 per tonne of lithium-carbonate-equivalent (LCE) than mining:
|Source||Ore Type||Process||Tonnes of CO2
per tonne of LCE
|Mineral||Petalite, lepidolite and others||Mine||8|
Mining involves drilling, blasting, and crushing the ore, followed by flotation to separate lithium-bearing minerals from other minerals. This type of extraction can have environmental impacts such as land disturbance, energy consumption, and the generation of waste rock and tailings.
Sustainable Production of Lithium and Nickel
Environmentally responsible practices in the extraction and processing of nickel and lithium are essential to ensure the sustainability of the battery supply chain.
This includes implementing stringent environmental regulations, promoting energy efficiency, reducing water consumption, and exploring cleaner technologies. Continued research and development efforts focused on improving extraction methods and minimizing environmental impacts are crucial.
Sign up to Wood Mackenzie’s Inside Track to learn more about the impact of an accelerated energy transition on mining and metals.
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