Mining Magnates: The Top 20 Billionaires in Mining
Metals and mining can be a very profitable business for the individuals at the top, but success can also come and go based on volatile commodity prices. The average time to make a billion dollars in the sector is 16 years, compared to 21 years across all industries.
Although tech and bank CEOs get all the limelight, eight of the 100 richest people in the world are in the metals and mining industry. Today’s graphic shows the top 20 metals and mining billionaires, based on the Forbes Billionaires List.
Steel producers dominate the list, followed by copper miners.
|Alexey Mordashov||$29.1B||Russia 🇷🇺||Severstal||steel|
|Vladimir Potanin||$27.0B||Russia 🇷🇺||Norilsk Nickel||palladium, platinum, nickel|
|Vladimir Lisin||$26.2B||Russia 🇷🇺||NLMK Group||steel|
|Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco||$25.9B||Mexico 🇲🇽||Grupo México||copper|
|Gina Rinehart||$23.6B||Australia 🇦🇺||Hancock Prospecting||iron ore|
|Iris Fontbona||$23.3B||Chile 🇨🇱||Antofagasta Plc||copper|
|Andrew Forrest||$20.4B||Australia 🇦🇺||Fortescue Metals Group||iron ore|
|Alisher Usmanov||$18.4B||Russia 🇷🇺||Metalloinvest||iron ore/steel|
|Lakshmi Mittal||$14.9B||India 🇮🇳||ArcelorMittal||steel|
|Wang Wenyin||$13.2B||China 🇨🇳||Amer International Group||copper|
|Dang Yanbao||$12.7B||China 🇨🇳||Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group||coal|
|Savitri Jindal||$9.7B||India 🇮🇳||Jindal Group||steel/cement|
|Iskander Makhmudov||$9.7B||Russia 🇷🇺||UGMK||copper|
|Alberto Baillères||$9.2B||Mexico 🇲🇽||Industrias Penoles||silver|
|Andrei Skoch||$8.6B||Russia 🇷🇺||State Duma||steel|
|Zheng Shuliang||$8.6B||China 🇨🇳||China Hongqiao Group||aluminum|
|Nicky Oppenheimer||$8.0B||South Africa 🇿🇦||De Beers||diamond|
|Alexander Abramov||$7.6B||Russia 🇷🇺||Evraz||steel|
|Rinat Akhmetov||$7.6B||Ukraine 🇺🇦||System Capital Management||steel, coal|
|Igor Altushkin||$7.6B||Russia 🇷🇺||Russian Copper Company (RMK)||copper|
Despite being major players in the mining industry, the United States and Canada don’t have representatives on the list.
Russia’s Mining Billionaires
Russia’s huge geographic area is filled with rich mineral resources providing a fertile ground for mining billionaires. It is the largest miner of diamonds and palladium, and the second-largest miner of platinum and nickel. It is no wonder this country hosts eight of the 20 richest people in the industry, including the first few on the list.
Alexey Mordashov, son of steel mill workers that had to use welfare coupons to raise the family, is the first on the list. The 55-year-old businessman is the majority shareholder in steel company Severstal. In the Forbes ranking, which takes into account the assets of the whole family, Mordashov ranks first among all Russian billionaires.
Next on the metals billionaire list is Vladimir Potanin, individually the wealthiest man in Russia and the owner of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and nickel.
Women at the Top
The first woman on the mining billionaires list in the fifth spot, is Australia’s Gina Rinehart, Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting. The 67-year-old executive is the only child of legendary explorer Lang Hancock, who discovered the world’s largest iron ore deposit in 1952.
Hancock died in 1992, leaving a bankrupt estate to Gina. She rebuilt and expanded the company over the following decade. As a result, she became a billionaire in 2006 during the iron ore boom.
“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain; do something to make more money yourself”
— Gina Rinehart
The list also includes the wealthiest person in Chile, Iris Fontbona. Iris is the widow of Andrónico Luksic, who built a fortune in the mining, financial, and beverages sectors, including the top copper miner Antofagasta.
A New Era for Mining Fortunes
As demand for most minerals increases due to new technologies and the energy transition, the world needs metals and mining more than ever and soon there will be a new list of billionaires who built their fortune on the minerals of tomorrow.
Visualizing the Products and Fuels Made from Crude Oil
Oil is a building block that makes modern life possible. This graphic looks at the proportion of finished products that are created from crude oil.
What Products Are Made from a Barrel of Crude Oil?
From the gasoline in our cars to the plastic in countless everyday items, crude oil is an essential raw material that shows up everywhere in our lives.
With around 18 million barrels of crude oil consumed every day just in America, this commodity powers transport, utilities, and is a vital ingredient in many of the things we use on a daily basis.
This graphic visualizes how much crude oil is refined into various finished products, using a barrel of oil to represent the proportional breakdown.
From Crude Oil to Functional Fuel and More
Crude oil is primarily refined into various types of fuels to power transport and vital utilities. More than 85% of crude oil is refined into fuels like gasoline, diesel, and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) like propane and butane.
Along with being fuels for transportation, heating, and cooking, HGLs are used as feedstock for the production of chemicals, plastics, and synthetic rubber, and as additives for motor gasoline production.
|Refined Crude Oil Product||Share of Crude Oil Refined|
|Hydrocarbon gas liquids||2.0%|
Source: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Crude oil not only powers our vehicles, but it also helps pave the roads we drive on. About 4% of refined crude oil becomes asphalt, which is used to make concrete and different kinds of sealing and insulation products.
Although transportation and utility fuels dominate a large proportion of refined products, essential everyday materials like wax and plastic are also dependent on crude oil. With about 10% of refined products used to make plastics, cosmetics, and textiles, a barrel of crude oil can produce a variety of unexpected everyday products.
Personal care products like cosmetics and shampoo are made using petroleum products, as are medical supplies like IV bags and pharmaceuticals. Modern life would look very different without crude oil.
The Process of Refining Crude Oil
You might have noticed that while a barrel of crude oil contains 42 gallons, it ends up producing 45 gallons of refined products. This is because the majority of refined products have a lower density than crude oil, resulting in an increase in volume that is called processing gain.
Along with this, there are other inputs aside from crude oil that are used in the refining process. While crude oil is the primary input, fuel ethanol, hydrocarbon gas liquids, and other blending liquids are also used.
|U.S. Refiner and Blender Inputs||Share of Total|
|Hydrocarbon gas liquids||3.0%|
The process of refining a 30,000-barrel batch of crude oil typically takes between 12-24 hours, with refineries operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Although the proportions of individual refined products can vary depending on market demand and other factors, the majority of crude oil will continue to become fuel for the world’s transport and utilities.
The Difficulty of Cutting Down on Crude Oil
From the burning of heavy fuels tarnishing icebergs found in Arctic waters to the mounds of plastic made with petrochemicals that end up in our rivers, crude oil and its refined products impact our environment in many different ways.
But even as the world works to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels in order to reach climate goals, a world without crude oil seems unfathomable.
Skyrocketing sales of EVs still haven’t managed to curb petroleum consumption in places like Norway, California, and China, and the steady reopening of travel and the economy will only result in increased petroleum consumption.
Completely replacing the multi-faceted “black gold” that is crude oil isn’t possible right now, but as electrification continues and we find alternatives to petrochemical materials, humanity might at least manage to reduce its dependence on burning fossil fuels.
The Biggest Mining Companies in the World in 2021
The graphic takes a look at the world’s largest mining companies by market capitalization and the metals they produce.
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.
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