China supplies around 70% of the world's iron ore demand and 40% of its copper demand. In fact, according to a 2016 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chinese mining companies accounted for 12 of the world's 40 largest companies in the industry. (For related insight, read our guide to mining stocks.)
The huge expansion in China's mining capacity and production was largely responsible for the drop in commodities prices over the past decade. In terms of all global metals and minerals demand, China supplies a whopping 40%, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In 2016, when most emerging companies saw an average decline of 22% in market capitalization, three new Chinese companies saw notable gains – Sichuan Tianqi (lithium), Tongling (nonferrous metals) and Zhongjin Lingnan (nonferrous metals). But the companies have struggled more in 2017.
Take a look at some of the top players in China's mining industry. Please note that these companies' stocks trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (tickers ending in .HK) or the Shanghai Stock Exchange (tickers ending in .SS).
China Shenhua is an integrated energy company that operates primarily through its coal division. The company operates several coal mines and is involved in the production and transportation of coal and coal products. This is a huge organization with a market cap of $62.4 billion. It reported revenue of $25.7 billion in 2015, a 30% drop from 2014, and its net income was $2.55 billion in 2015. The company is the third-largest mining company in the world in 2017, unchanged from 2016. (For more, read about the top four coal mining stocks in 2017.)
China Coal Energy operates 12 coal mines. It is the fifth-largest coal enterprise in the world based on coal reserves and the second largest in China. In 2015, it reported revenues of $8.56 billion, down 16.1% from 2014, and its net income was $1.085 billion in 2015. China Coal Energy currently takes the 26th spot in the rankings of the world's 40 largest mining companies by revenue, down from 12th in 2016. (For related insight, read about how mining companies are riding commodity price waves.)
Zijin Mining Group is principally involved in gold mining and smelting, although it also deals in copper, lead, zinc, silver and even iron products in much smaller quantities. The company has a market cap of $10.22 billion. Zijin Mining reported net income of $200 million on revenue of $10.1 billion in 2015. Although revenue was up 26 percent in 2015, net income dropped by 29.4%. The company is the 28th largest mining company in the world, down from 13th in 2016.
China Northern Rare Earth Group, formerly known as the Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Group, is engaged in producing rare earth metals, oxides and salts (think neodymium, yttrium and lanthanum). It has a market cap of $6.7 billion. In 2015, the company reported revenue of $947 million, up 12 percent from the previous year, and a net income of $47.1 million, down nearly 50% from the prior year. China Northern Rare Earth Group fell 21 spots in 2017 to become the 38th-largest mining company in the world, down from 17th in 2016.
Jiangxi is China's largest copper producer with reserves in excess of 10 million tons of copper, 9,350 tons of silver and 330 tons of gold, plus various other metals. Jiangxi Copper has a market cap of $7.36 billion. Its 2015 revenues came in at $30.5 billion, with a net income of $57.3 million. The company fell to 36th place on the list of the largest mining companies in 2017 from 26th in 2016.
Shaanxi Coal provides coal for electricity generation in Eastern China, Northern China and Middle China. It has a market cap of $7.06 billion and reported revenues in 2015 of $3.72 billion, down 21% from 2014. It reported an operating loss of $43 million in 2015 after reporting net income of $137.6 million in 2014. The company made its debut among the top 40 mining companies in 2016, coming in at number 21. In 2017, it fell to 37th place.