China is the largest gold producer in the world, with much of the historical and current production coming from the Jiaodong Peninsula in Shandong province, which is host to many gold resources. In 2018, the five largest Chinese gold producers controlled about 30% of local mined production, which has grown an average of 4% per year over the last five years. Low wages and consumable costs make the total cash costs among the lowest in the world.
Iron ore production in China has tumbled in the last six years, falling 40% in 2018 alone. From a peak of over 408 million tonnes in 2013, production dropped to 124 Mt in 2018. As iron ore prices have dropped and additional tonnes have entered the market from Australia, China's mines have become less competitive due to their lower-grade ore.
Base metals also play an important role in the domestic mining industry as more than 30% of global zinc production was mined in China in 2018. Provinces such as Yunnan and Inner Mongolia are major zinc producers, but cash costs are generally higher than the rest of the world due to high domestic treatment charges.
Recent environmentally enforced closures and capacity cuts have consolidated the Chinese mining industry. Companies have been forced to cut costs and endeavor to become more environmentally friendly.