Natural resources or commodities are the raw inputs used to manufacture and produce all of the products in the world. These resources are found in the earth including those extracted from the earth and those that have yet to be extracted. They grow naturally without any help from humans. Commodities are either renewable or nonrenewable. Renewable resources are those whose supply is infinite—such as solar power—while nonrenewable ones have a limited supply and can no longer be used once the supply is exhausted like fossil fuels.
Natural resources are found throughout the world and extracted for human use. Every product on the market is made using a commodity. As such, they are very valuable, providing income and revenue for governments and corporations. Here are the top 10 countries with the most natural resources and their total estimated value, according to World Atlas.
- Natural resources are valuable to the countries where they are found as they are extracted to produce goods and services.
- Mining is the primary industry for many of the countries on this list.
- Oil and gas make up a big portion of the natural resources on the top 10 list.
- Australia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, the U.S., and Brazil are on the bottom of the list.
- The top five are China, Saudi Arabia, Canada, India, and Russia.
Australia earns $19.9 trillion U.S. dollars from mining, and it is number 10 on the list. Australia, which is about 80% the size of the United States, is known for its large reserves of coal, timber, copper, iron ore, nickel, oil shale, and rare earth metals and mining is the primary industry. Australia is also one of the leaders in uranium and gold mining. The country has the largest gold reserves in the world, supplying over 14% of the world's gold demand and 46% of the world's uranium demand. Australia is the top producer of opal and aluminum.
9. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Mining is also the primary industry of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2009, the DRC had over $24 million in mineral deposits including the largest coltan reserve and huge amounts of cobalt. The DRC also has large copper, diamond, gold, tantalum, and tin reserves, along with over three million tons of lithium as estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey. According to the latest data, there were over 25 international mining firms in the DRC in 2011.
This South American country has an estimated $14.3 trillion worth of natural resources. It is the leading exporter of bauxite, coal, gold, iron ore, and oil. The country's oil reserves are greater than those of the United States, Canada, and Mexico combined. Venezuela is the third-largest producer of coal after Brazil and Colombia. It also has the eighth-largest reserves of natural gas accounting for 2.7% of the global supply. Venezuela also has the second-largest reserves of gold deposits.
7. The United States
Mining is one of the primary industries in the United States. In 2015, total metal and coal reserves in the country were estimated to be $109.6 billion. The United States is the leading producer of coal and has been for decades, and it accounts for just over 30% of global coal reserves and has huge amounts of timber. Total natural resources for the United States are approximately $45 trillion, almost 90% of which are timber and coal. Other resources include substantial copper, gold, oil, and natural gas deposits.
Brazil has commodities worth $21.8 trillion including gold, iron, oil, and uranium. The mining industry focuses on bauxite, copper, gold, iron, and tin. Brazil has the largest gold and uranium deposits in the world and is the second-largest oil producer. However, timber is the country's most valuable natural resource, accounting for over 12.3% of the world's timber supplies.
There is a natural relationship between the economy and the world's natural resources—as the global economy grows, demand for commodities continues to rise.
Russia's total estimated natural resources are worth $75 trillion. The country has the biggest mining industry in the world producing mineral fuels, industrial minerals, and metals. Russia is a leading producer of aluminum, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium metal, and compounds such as nitrogen, palladium, silicon, and vanadium. The nation is the second-largest exporter of rare earth minerals.
India's mining sector contributes 11% of the country's industrial gross domestic product (GDP) and 2.5% of total GDP. The mining and metal industry was worth over $106.4 billion in 2010. The nation's coal reserves are the fourth largest in the world. India's other natural resources include bauxite, chromite, diamonds, limestone, natural gas, petroleum, and titanium ore. India provides over 12% of global thorium, over 60% of global mica production, and is the leading producer of manganese ore.
The third country on the list is Canada. The vast country has an estimated $33.2 trillion worth of commodities and the third-largest oil deposits after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The commodities that the country owns include industrial minerals, such as gypsum, limestone, rock salt, and potash, as well as energy minerals, such as coal and uranium. Metals in Canada include copper, lead, nickel, and zinc, and precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. Canada is the leading supplier of natural gas and phosphate and is the third-largest exporter of timber.
2: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a small country in the Middle East and is slightly larger than Mexico. Saudi Arabia has about $34.4 trillion worth of natural resources—notably oil. The nation has been a leading exporter ever since oil was discovered in 1938. With 22.4% of the world's reserves, the country's economy depends heavily on its oil exports. It also has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves. Saudi Arabia's other natural resources include copper, feldspar, phosphate, silver, sulfur, tungsten, and zinc.
China tops the list for having the most natural resources estimated to be worth $23 trillion. Ninety percent of China's resources are coal and rare earth metals. However, timber is another major natural resource found in China. Other resources that China produces are antimony, coal, gold, graphite, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, tin, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc. China is the world's second-largest producer of bauxite, cobalt, copper, manganese, and silver. It also has chromium and gem diamond.