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Global Metal Mining Industry

The global metal mining market (part of the more global materials sector) is expected to exceed $870 billion by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts. Having fallen sharply in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the economic recession, the world metals market witnessed strong recovery in 2010 and 2011. The industry’s downturn during the financial crisis hit established markets such as the US and the EU more than emerging markets.

Key Segments

MarketLine estimates the world’s gold market was worth more than $110 billion in 2011, having recorded almost 28% yearly growth for the four preceding years. In terms of market production volume, the gold sector witnessed 3% yearly growth over the same four-year period to exceed 2,000 thousand metric tons. Industry performance is expected to slow to less than 10% annual growth between 2011 and 2016, bringing the market to just less than $170 billion by the close of 2016.

World nickel production jumped 10% in 2011 compared with the previous year to reach almost 1.6 million tons. Consumption climbed 7% in the same year to reach almost 1.57 million tons. Research in China predicts global nickel projects along with new capacities will see nickel oversupply reach 50,000 tons. China imported more than 48 million tons of nickel ore sands and concentrates from Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia in 2011, representing a 93% jump from the previous year, with laterite nickel representing more than 98%. Indonesia introduced a 20% export levy on more than a dozen types of raw ore, including nickel, in May of 2012. This is expected to see China’s laterite nickel ore supply decline and send nickel prices climbing.

The global copper industry is expected to reach almost 28 million metric tons by 2017, reports Global Industry Analysts. Copper demand is largely dictated by construction activity and industrial production, and therefore by broad economic trends. Copper market growth is expected to benefit from economic recovery over the coming years, with copper demand fueled by greater penetration of copper in various applications including copper cables for digital transmission, renewable sources of energy and electric vehicles. China is set to continue dominating the global copper market.

Rare earths, or “technology metal”, are used in the manufacture of digital technology products. China dominates the market, accounting for more than 95% overall production, according to Visiongain. The world market for rare earths is forecast to exceed $18 billion before the end of 2012. Market value is expected to fall due to declining prices of rare earths, sustaining the downward trend in prices. Should China’s rare earth exports quota rise or there be any delay in rare earth projects, rare earth prices could then rise, having a positive effect on market value.

Though the global steel industry has gone from strength to strength since the industrial revolution due to its role in global economic growth. However, iron ore, cooking coal shortages and rising oil prices have led to difficulties in the steel sector. The steel industry has witnessed new growth linked to increased levels of industrialization and urbanization activities in China, reports Visiongain. Industrial development in other BRIC countries has also helped to fuel steel industry growth. These new developments have attracted the attention of investors, bringing steel, iron ore and cooking coal to the fore. Growing demand for steel and its primary input has led to rising levels of capital investment and increased research and development activity. According to research from Visiongain, the world steel market was to exceed $1.3 trillion in 2011.

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