Mining industry outlook fact sheet

What does the mining industry do?

Metal mining companies explore for metals, build mines, extract ores and process ores. 

Which countries have the biggest players in the industry?

The U.S. and China are the largest players on the international scene. China's power is due to its growing economy and government policies that support the industry. In the mid-2000s, strong production and strong consumption further powered the industry. 

Who are the major companies in the United States?

In the United States, major metal mining companies include Newmont Mining Corporation, Cliffs Natural Resources and Freeport-McMoRan.

What does “metal ores” mean?

The term "metal ores" refers to aluminum, copper, gold, iron, nickel and other minerals.

How much money does the industry have?

The amount of money invested in searching for new metals is staggering: $2.7 billion in U.S. dollars worldwide.

What challenges face the industry?

The industry has faced increased costs, mostly around the cost of machines, studies, employee training and safety standards.

How exactly do companies mine for metals?

Mining companies use different types of mining techniques: surface, alluvial, and underground. An example of surface mining is mountain top mining. Alluvial mining happens when companies look for minerals that are mixed with other components like salt, sand and gravel.

What was the most recent significant year for the industry?

The year 2000 was a major turning point for the metal mining industry. Demand, privatization, environmental regulations, labor and trade agreements changed the game. 

Source: "Mining, Metal." Encyclopedia of Global Industries. Ed. Lynn M. Pearce. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 30 Jan. 2014