The combined market cap of the top 25 miners lost 16% from 2017 levels amid weak pricing for certain base metals and tension brought about by the U.S.-China trade dispute.
The overall market value of the 25 firms ended 2018 at a combined US$629.68 billion, up about 1% since November, when the market cap fell to US$623.18 billion. Despite the slight monthly increase, 21 of the top 25 saw their market values decline since the end of 2017, when the combined value was US$753.59 billion. In 2018, prices for certain base metals such as copper and nickel fell and contributed to pressure on production and market values.
Top miner BHP Group Ltd. ended 2018 with a market cap of US$115.53 billion, a 1.8% decrease year on year. Rio Tinto, which ranked second, closed 2018 valued at US$81.25 billion, down about 15.4% from the year before. The largest year-over-year decline in market cap occurred at China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. with a 47.6% drop to US$11.10 billion, which shifted its rank year on year to 18th from 10th.
Out of the top 25, South Africa-based Anglo American Platinum Ltd., which is about 80% owned by Anglo American PLC, showed the most gain in value year over year, with its market cap increasing by 31% to US$9.80 billion. The appreciation led its December value to rank 25th, up from 41st at the end of 2017.
Some of the top five mining firms had higher market caps between November and December of 2018. BHP Group's December market cap rose 2.7% from US$112.44 billion in November, and Rio Tinto's value rose 4% from US$78.11 billion. The increases helped keep the two firms ranked first and second, respectively.
Vale SA, Glencore PLC and PJSC Mining and Metallurgical Company Norilsk Nickel, which rounded out the top five, each had lower values month to month. Vale's market cap slipped 3.6% to US$67.91 billion, while the market caps of Glencore and Norilsk each fell less than 1% to US$51.34 billion and US$29.69 billion, respectively.
Outside of the top five, another dozen companies had rising values month to month, including Anglo American which increased by about 11% to end 2018 at US$28.30 billion, pushing its rank to sixth from seventh.
Barrick Gold Corp.'s market value rose 6.2% since November to US$15.77 billion, pulling the firm up to 11th from 12th in November. Barrick's rank could shift further if a proposed merger with London-listed Randgold Resources Ltd. closes in 2019. The merger announced in September 2018 is expected to close this quarter and could create a company with a combined market cap of US$22.5 billion, according to a November 2018 investor presentation.
Anglo American Platinum saw the largest growth in market value month to month. Its market cap jumped more than 16% to US$9.80 billion, raising its rank to 25th from 27th in the prior month.
Eight companies lost value month to month and dropped in rank. Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s position dropped the most, falling five spots to 13th after its market cap fell 13.7% to US$14.94 billion. Another large drop occurred at PAO Severstal, which had a December 2018 value of US$11.06 billion, down 7.1% from the month before.
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