iron ore mining process

What are the biggest iron ore companies listed on the ASX? Read on to learn more.

Like many industries, the mining industry was impacted by the pandemic, but for iron ore, the effect was slightly different.

Since 2016 the price of iron had been on a slow steady rise; however, in the spring and early summer of 2021, iron ore spiked to a high of AU$294.03. This lasted only a short while as prices plummeted to AU$131.97 in the latter half of 2021.

This was the result of demand and supply chains playing cat and mouse. In response to the pandemic, China — the world’s biggest producer of steel — began major construction to keep the economy afloat. Iron ore suppliers around the world were short-staffed and unable to keep up with the demand due to COVID-19. Large demand and short supply meant higher prices, but when the suppliers finally returned to work, the demand was no longer present. Production was also paused during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Below, the Investing News Network has listed the biggest iron ore companies on the ASX by market cap so far this year. Data for the top ASX Iron stocks were obtained on March 31, 2022, from TradingView's stock screener.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$256 billion; current share price: AU$52.39

BHP Group (ASX:BHP), formerly known as BHP Billiton, is a multinational mining company with its headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. BHP is known for mining iron ore, copper, potash, coal and nickel. The company runs six iron ore mining projects out of Pilbara, Western Australia.

South Flank, which the company bills as Australia’s largest new iron development in over 50 years, began operation in 2021. It is projected that together with Mining Area C, the two plants will produce 145 million tonnes of ore per year.

2. Rio Tinto

Market cap: AU$176.15 million; current share price: AU$120.34

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) creates five products on the western side of Australia including Pilbara Blend, Yandicoogina and Robe Valley. Pilbara Blend products — making up over two-thirds of their iron ore portfolio — are known for consistent quality. Yandicoogina is used by many customers in East Asia and southern China; Robe Valley, with the company’s lowest iron content, is sold for more niche applications.

In partnership with NASA, Rio Tinto plans to open its first intelligent mine: Gudai-Darri, a AU$2.6 billion iron new project with autonomous transportation and drilling systems. In 2018 funding was approved and with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the first production from the plant is expected by summer 2022.

3. Fortescue Metals Group

Market cap: AU$60.93 billion; current share price: AU$21.06

Established in 2003, Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is a mining, technology and development company. Fortescue owns five mining projects in the Pilbara region of Western Australia including the Chichester, Solomon and Western Hubs. As one of the leaders in the mining and development sector for battling against climate change, one of the company’s main goals is to have zero carbon emissions by 2030.

On March 1, 2022, Fortescue bought Williams Advanced Engineering and announced the world’s very first zero-emissions infinity train. The new acquisition will be managed by Fortescue Future Industries, the mining company's green energy and technology sector. The infinity train is set to have embedded electricity regeneration to avoid the need for recharging stations, so it will be able to use electric power to bring ore to port and return.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Marlee John, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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