Top 10 US-based mining companies

Processing equipment at Southern Copper’s Toquepala copper mine in southern Peru. Credit: Southern Copper.Processing equipment at Southern Copper’s Toquepala copper mine in southern Peru. Credit: Southern Copper.

The Northern Miner presents its top-10 list of the largest U.S.-headquartered mining companies.


Market cap: US$35 billion

Southern Copper (NYSE: SCCO), an 88%-owned subsidiary of the conglomerate Grupo Mexico, is the largest U.S.-headquartered mining company. It operates mines and metallurgical facilities in Mexico and Peru and conducts exploration activities in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. At 70.6 million tonnes, Southern Copper has the largest copper reserves of any company in the world. It is the largest copper producer in Peru and Mexico.

The Phoenix-based company is on track to produce 817,000 tonnes of copper this year, an 88% increase since 2010. It expects to boost production a further 790,000 tonnes with its new projects, most especially the Michiquillay mine in Peru. Southern Copper bought the rights for Michiquillay from the Peruvian government for $400 million and 3% royalties this February. Following a $2.5 billion capital expenditure, the company expects Michiquillay to produce 225,000 tonnes of copper per year for an initial mine life of 25 years.


Market cap: US$23 billion

A worker inside Freeport-McMoRan’s Henderson molybendum mine in Colorado. Credit: Freeport Mcmoran.

A worker inside Freeport-McMoRan’s Henderson molybendum mine in Colorado. Credit: Freeport Mcmoran.

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) is the world’s largest molybdenum producer and second largest copper producer. The Phoenix-based company has operations all over the Americas and a 51% stake in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world’s largest gold mine and second largest copper mine. Freeport’s reserves currently total 86.7 billion lb. copper, 23.5 million oz. gold and 2.84 billion lb. molybdenum.

Freeport recently began construction on its wholly owned Lone Star copper project near its Safford mine in eastern Arizona. Following a capital expenditure of US$850 million, Lone Star is expected to produce approximately 200 million lb. copper per year for 20 years. Freeport is conducting additional drilling around the Safford-Lone Star area with an eye towards the development of a larger-scale district opportunity.


Market cap: US$20 billion

Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) recently overtook Barrick Gold as the world’s largest gold producer. The Denver-based miner expects to produce 4.9 to 5.4 million oz. gold this year at its operations across the Americas, Africa and Australia. Newmont’s reserves currently total 68.5 million oz. gold and 1.2 million tonnes copper.

The Batu Hijau copper-gold mine in in West Sumbawa, Indonesia. Credit: Newmont Mining.

Newmont has built six new mines and expansions on four continents over the past five years. Two of those expansions – Twin Creeks underground expansion and Northwest Exodus underground expansion in the Carlin North area, both in Nevada – were completed this summer.

The Twin Creeks underground expansion project will add between 30,000 and 40,000 oz. of gold production per year at all-in sustaining costs of between US$600 and US$750 per oz. for its first five years of production. Northwest Exodus will add between 50,000 and 75,000 oz. of gold production per year and lower Carlin’s all-in sustaining costs by US$25 per ounce.

4. FMC

Market cap: US$12 billion

FMC (NYSE: FMC) is an American chemical manufacturing company headquartered in Philadelphia. The company began in 1883 as the Bean Spray Pump Company in California producing piston pumps for insecticides. In World War II, the company developed the M113, one of the most-used armoured personnel carriers ever.

The company is currently focused on agriculture, health and wellness products and lithium technologies. In 2018, FMC announced the spinoff of its lithium business, Livent. Livent has a lithium mine in Argentina and a lithium refinery in Argentina and the U.S. Earnings from FMC’s lithium business grew 85% year over year in the second quarter.


Market cap: US$11 billion

Mosaic (NYSE: MOC) is the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash. The company’s phosphate mines and production facilities in Florida and Louisiana produce concentrated phosphate crop nutrients and phosphate-based animal feed ingredients. Its potash mines and production facilities in Canada and the U.S. produce potash-based crop nutrients, animal feed ingredients and industrial products. Altogether, Mosaic’s reserves total 2.2 million tonnes of potash, 430 million tonnes of potassium oxide and 280 million tonnes of phosphate.


Market cap: US$8 billion

Alcoa (NYSE: ARNC) is the world’s sixth largest aluminum producer and largest bauxite miner. Alcoa is involved in all aspects of the aluminum supply chain:– technology, mining, refining, smelting, fabricating, and recycling.

Alcoa has ownership in seven active bauxite mines globally, and operates four of them. That includes the Huntly mine in Australia, the second largest bauxite mine in the world.

At the launch of Elysis in Montreal in May 2018, from left: Elysis CEO Vincent Christ, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios. Credit: PMO.

At the launch of Elysis in Montreal in May 2018, from left: Elysis CEO Vincent Christ, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios. Credit: PMO.

In May, Alcoa unveiled a partnership with Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LON: RIO) to develop what they call a “revolutionary” new aluminum smelting technology that eliminates carbon emissions and produces oxygen as a by-product. To advance the technology, the two companies have set up a Montreal-based, joint-venture company named Elysis, which will have a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. Elysis will develop and license the technology for retrofitted and new facilities, and sell proprietary anode and cathode materials that the partners say will last “more than 30 times longer than traditional components.”


Market cap: US$6 billion

Royal Gold (NYSE: RGLD) is a precious metals stream and royalty company with claims on gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc mines all over the world. The Denver-based company has claims on 192 assets, 39 of which are in operating and 22 of which are at the development stage.

Royal Gold derives 80% of its revenue from six properties: the Andacollo copper-gold mine in Chile, the Penasquito silver-gold-zinc-lead mine in Mexico, the Pueblo Viejo gold-silver mine in the Dominican Republic, the Cortez gold mine in Nevada, the Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in B.C. and the Wassa gold mine in Ghana.


Market cap: US$5 billion

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) is the largest private sector coal company in the world. In the U.S., it operates seven coal mines in the Illinois Basin, three in the Powder River Basin and four in the western U.S. In Australia, it operates four mines near New South Wales and five near Queensland.

Peabody sold 174 million tonnes of coal in 2017. The St. Louis-based company has 3.4 billion tonnes of proven and probable reserves.

In 2017, Peabody resumed operations after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A sharp drop in coal prices had left the company unable to service its US$10.1 billion debt load. As of June 30, 2018, it has $4.2 billion in liabilities.


Market cap: US$3 billion

Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE: CLF) is an iron ore and coal producer headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. It has five iron ore mines in Michigan and Minnesota, all of which produce iron ore in pellet form. The company sells pellets to steel companies under long-term contracts, insulating it from iron ore price fluctuations.

In 2017, Cleveland-Cliffs produced 17 million tonnes of iron ore. Current reserves total 2.2 billion tonnes.

Cleveland-Cliffs has restructured its portfolio significantly in the past five years. In 2014, the company closed its two iron ore mines in eastern Canada. In 2015, the company sold its two metallurgical coal mines in the U.S. to Seneca Coal Resources and closed its Empire iron ore mine in Michigan. The company also intends to sell its Asia Pacific iron ore business, including its two Australian iron ore mines, to Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN).


Market cap: US$3 billion

Minerals Technologies (NYSE: MTX) is a mineral processing company that provides mineral processing solutions and plant designs for iron ore, mineral sands, silica sands, coal, chromite, gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum. The New York City-based company is the world’s leading mineral sands plant designer.

In May, Minerals Technologies signed a contract with the state-owned Egyptian Black Sands Company to provide equipment, engineering design and support services for the development of Egypt’s first mineral sands operation. The project, located 170 km north of Cairo in the Burullus region on the Mediterranean coast, will require a floating mineral sands concentrator plant and a land-based mineral separation plant. It will produce ilmenite, rutile, zircon and garnet products from black sands.


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