The mining industry has been key to the development of civilisation, underpinning the iron and bronze ages, the industrial revolution and the infrastructure of today’s information age. In 2001, the mining industry produced over 6 billion tons of raw product valued at several trillion dollars. Downstream beneficiation and minerals processing of these raw materials adds further value as raw materials and products are created to serve all aspects of industry and commerce worldwide.

The last decade of the twentieth century saw the creation of mega-commodity corporations that increasingly moved downstream into the beneficiation area, leaving exploration for new mineral deposits increasingly to small junior mining companies. Application of new technology has led to productivity gains across the value chain.

Apart from Antarctica (which has a treaty in place preventing short to medium term exploitation and exploration of minerals), mining takes place in all of the world’s continents. Traditional mining countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Chile dominate the global mining scene. These countries have become the traditional leaders in mining and exploration methods and technology. Exploration and development funding has changed over the past few years with emphasis shifting to areas that have been poorly explored or have had poor access for reasons of politics, infrastructure or legislation. Gold, base metal, diamonds and platinum group elements (PGE’s) are the more important commodities explored for and developed globally.

North America:

North America is the major producer of gold and silver. Raw mineral production in 1998 was valued at approximately US$ 70 billion. The industry employs approximately 1 million people. Major companies include Barrick, Newmont and Industrias Penoles


Europe is not a major mining center. However, it has several established base metal mines in Scandanavia, Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula. Major companies include Boliden and Outokumpu.


Asia is a major producer of base metals, PGE’s, ferrous metals and coal. Most major producers are state controlled, but foreign investment is being encouraged, in particular by China, India and the CIS.

South America:

South America is a major producer of base and ferrous metals, in particular copper and iron ore. Major companies include Codelco, Barrick, CVRD, Newmont and Rio Tinto.


Africa is a major producer of cobalt, gold, PGE’s and diamonds. Mining accounts for a substantial proportion of several countries GDP’s. Major companies include Anglo American, De Beers and BHP Billiton.


Australasia is a leading producer of iron ore, gold and base metals. Major companies include BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Normandy Mining.

The following table summarises the global mining industry by commodity:

Production (2003): 142 Mt
Major Countries: China, Bolivia, South Africa
Major companies: Metorex, Emusa
Key uses: Flame retardants, semi conductors
Production (2003): 144 Mt
Major Countries: Australia, Guinea, JamaicaSuriname
Major companies: Alcoa, Alcan, Comalco
Key uses: Aluminium production
Production (2003): 14 Mt
Major Countries: South Africa, Kazakhstan and Turkey
Major companies: Samancor, Assmang
Key uses: Stainless steel production, superalloys
Total Production (2002): Approx. 3837 Mt
Major Countries: USA, China and India
Major companies: Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Coal India
Key uses: Energy generation
Production (2003): 18, 143 t
Major Countries: Zambia, DRC and Russia
Major companies: Gecamines, Norilsk Nickel
Key uses: Metal alloys
Mine production (2003): 13.63 Mt
World demand (2000): 13.2 Mt
Major Countries: Chile, USA and Australia
Major companies: Codelco, Rio Tinto, Grupo Mexico
Key uses: Electrical applications, construction
Production (2003): 138.0 Mct
Value US$ (2000): $ 7.8 billion
Major Countries: Botswana, Russia, Australia
Major companies: Debswana, Rio Tinto, Alrosa
Key uses: Jewellery, abrasives
Mine Production (2003): 2 593 t
Total Demand (2003): 3 321 t
Major Countries: South Africa, USA, Australia
Major companies: AngloGold, Barrick, Newmont
Key uses: Jewellery, Investments
Iron ore
Production (2003): 1,098.8 Mt
Iron ore Exports (2000): 488 Mt
Major countries: Australia, Brazil, China
Major companies: CVRD, BHP Billiton
Key uses: Steel industry
Mine Production (2003): 2.84 Mt
Metal Consumption (2000): 6.51Mt
Major Countries: Australia, China and USA
Major companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Pasminco
Key uses: Motor vehicle batteries, chemical
Mine production (2003): 8.0Mt
Major Countries: South Africa, Gabon, Brazil
Major companies: Samancor, Assmang, Comilog
Key uses: Ferroalloys
Production (2003): 127 000 t
Major Countries: USA, China and Chile
Major companies: Phelps Dodge, Codelco
Key uses: FerroAlloys
Production (2003): 1,400 Mt
Demand (2000): 1.2 Mt
Major Countries: Russia, Canada, Australia
Major companies: WMC, Norilsk Nickel, Inco
Key uses: Stainless steel, batteries, fuel cells
Total Supply (2003): 171 000 kg
Total Demand (2000): 8.9 Moz
Major Countries: South Africa and Russia
Major companies: Anglo Platinum, Norilsk Nickel
Key uses: Motor vehicle catalysts, electronic
Production (2003): 138 Mt
Demand (1998): 147 Mt
Major Countries: USA, Morocco, China
Major companies: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, OCP
Key uses: Fertiliser applications
Total Supply (2003): 187 000 kg
Total Demand (2003): 2.83 Moz
Major Countries: South Africa and Russia
Major companies: Anglo Platinum, Norilsk Nickel
Key uses: Motor vehicle catalysts, jewellery
Mine Production (2003): 580,2 Moz
Total Demand (2002): 838,2 Moz
Major Countries: Mexico, Peru, Australia
Major companies: Industrias Penoles, BHP Billiton
Key uses: Electronics, photographic, jewellery
Production (2003): 1.23 Mt
Major countries: Australia, Canada
Major companies: Sons of Gwalia, Gippsland Ltd
Key uses: Electronic components; alloys
Production (2002): 142 100 t (Primary and Secondary sources)
Major Countries: China, Peru and Indonesia
Major companies: PT Timah Tbk , Minsur
Key uses: Packaging, alloys
Production (2003): 4 700 Mt (Ilmenite, Leucoxene and Rutile)
Major Countries: Australia, South Africa, Canada
Major companies: BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Westralian Sands
Key uses: Pigments and alloys
Production (2003): 46 200 t (concentrate)
Major Countries: China and Russia
Major companies: Mainly state owned
Key uses: FerroAlloys, filaments
Production (2003): 35 844 t
Major Countries: Canada, Niger and Australia
Major companies: Cogema, Cameco
Key uses: Power generation, medical
Mine Production (2003): 60 Mt (Vanadium pentoxide)
Major Countries: South Africa, Australia
Major companies: Highveld Steel, Xstrata, Precious Metals Australia (PMA)
Key uses: FerroAlloys
Mine Production (2003): 9.86 Mt
Metal Consumption (2000): 8.8 Mt
Major Countries: Australia, Canada and China
Major companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Pasminco
Key uses: Galvanising, alloys
Supply (2003): 890 Mt
Major Countries: South Africa, Australia
Major companies: BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Westralian Sands
Key uses: Foundry applications, alloys


Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at mbendi.co.za. With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. bakamoso@gmail.com / Instagram