The World's Top 5 Mining Countries

Posted by Cori O'Donnell - Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We told you last week that Afghanistan has opened up mining operations to access the estimated $1 trillion worth of gold, copper and iron ore deposits.

The Afghan government is hoping that the growing interest in the country’s mining industry will provide enough wealth so that the country -- which has been torn apart by war for 30 years -- can begin to rebuild.

But they have a serious amount of mining to do if they expect to break into the top tier of mining countries. Here's a look at the world’s top 5 richest mining countries:

1)   South Africa

south africa minersSouth Africa takes the number one spot. According to The Telegraph, South Africa has more than $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves. The country is the world’s biggest producer of platinum, and leading producer of gold, diamonds, base metals and coal. The Chamber of Mines of South Africa estimates that from July 2011 to September 2011 there was 1,188,269 ounces of gold and gold uranium produced. There has also been a plentiful supply of coal in the country.

In 2010, South Africa had about 32 billion tons of coal reserves, ranking it as the world’s fifth largest producer. The top 13 mining companies in South Africa- including BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Impala Platinum- dominate 95 percent of the market cap. According to Dolbear's 2011 Ranking of Countries for Mining Investment report, South Africa will continue to be a place of growing interest for investors, and it’s predicted the country will continue to be lucrative.

2)   Russia:

russian miningRussia also has a productive mining industry, its iron ore reserves are estimated to be worth $794 billion, according to The Telegraph. Russia accounts for 20 percent of the world’s nickel and cobalt production and 5 to 7 percent of the world’s coal and iron ore production. Russia has about 20,000 mineral deposits explored, to date. The mining industry in Russia is one of the most important industries to the country’s economy. Leading mining companies in Russia include Norilsk Nickel Mining, Amur Minerals Corp. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. Although Russia does have a seemingly good mining industry, Behre Dolbear advises to avoid investment in this country because Russia is notoriously known for corruption, and is considered a high-risk place to invest your money.

3)   Australia

australia miningAustralia is the world’s second leading supplier of seaborne ore, and this country has reserves valued at $737 billion, reports The Telegraph.  Australia also holds large reserves of other minerals including nickel and bauxite. 

From Mining-Technology.com:

“Australia holds approximately 35% of global nickel reserves and nearly 23% of global bauxite reserves. As a result, in 2009 Australia contributed more than 30% to global bauxite production and nearly 15% to global nickel output.”

Leading mining companies in Australia include BHP Billiton and Citi Gold (a company that mines 300,000 ounces of gold annually). Behre Dolbear listed Australia as one of its highest rated countries for mining investment opportunities, but did make note that because of flooding the coal mining industry of this country will take another 6 months to rebuild.

4)   Ukraine

ukraine miningUkraine is also rich in iron ore, the country has $510 billion worth of deposits, says The Telegraph. Ukraine also has a productive mining industry, more than 300 mines are in operation. The mining industry contributes a large amount to the country’s economy, accounting for 4.4 percent of the GDP. Leading mining companies with operations in Ukraine include Anika LLC and Black Iron Inc.

5)   Guinea

guinea mining

Guinea comes in at the number five spot. The country has $222 billion worth of bauxite reserves, reports The Telegraph. Guinea’s economy relies largely on the mining industry, as it contributes 25 percent of the country’s income. The country is home to one of the world’s largest bauxite reserves, and is estimated to contain 24 percent of the world’s bauxite reserves. Leading mining companies in Guinea include Newmont Mining Corp., Alcoa Inc. and Anglo Aluminum Corp.  The future of Guinea’s mining industry is promising.

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