The mining sector saw growth in 2018, with the industry's aggregate market capitalization rising to US$1.752 trillion. An analysis of the top 15 share-price performers reflected the gradual recovery of gold companies as analysts expect the price of gold to rise in 2019.
Bushveld Minerals Ltd. was the top performer of the year, with its share price rising by 329.9% during 2018. Analysts from SP Angel called the stock a sound investment in 2019 as they expect Chinese authorities to enforce China's new construction regulation governing the alloy content in steel rebar. SP Angel recommended a "buy" rating for the stock with a target price of 87 British pence.
Increasing interest in copper assets resulted in Nevsun Resources Ltd.'s share price nearly doubling to US$4.4 at the end of 2018, from US$2.4 in 2017. The company was the target of a few takeover bids, as they are notably the sole owner of the high-grade copper-gold Timok Upper Zone in Serbia. In early September 2018, Nevsun agreed to Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd.'s C$6.00-per-share all-cash takeover bid, valued at C$1.86 billion.
Israel Chemicals Ltd. saw its share price increase 39.8% year on year to US$5.7. The company recently signed a five-year potash supply deal with Indian Potash Ltd., the country's largest potash importer, for 600,000 tonnes per year in 2019 and 2020, and 650,000 t/y from 2021 to 2023.
Evraz PLC, which recorded the highest market capitalization of the group, posted a 33.3% growth in share price to US$6.1. The Russian steel producer had a busy first half in 2018, entering a five-year contract with Russian Railways to supply 111.7 billion rubles worth of rail products. A new blast furnace and separate expansion project was also launched at the Nizhny Tagil steel plant in Russia.
Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. booked the highest share price among the gold producers, with a 69.8% increase to US$26.1. Other notable gold producers on the list include Australia-based Northern Star Resources Ltd. with a 36.7% jump, and China-based Zhaojin Mining Industry Co. Ltd. with a 31.1% increase.
While gold and steel companies took over the list of top share-price performers, other mining firms saw their share price decline significantly in 2018.
Glencore PLC unit Katanga Mining Ltd. recorded the highest decline, dropping 74.2% to 40 U.S. cents per share. This is in stark contrast to the company's 2017 outcome of US$1.5, when they placed first in the list of top share-price performers. The decline is mainly attributed to the company halting sales and exports of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to uranium contamination.
Other companies that recorded declines in share price for 2018 include aluminum producers En+ Group PLC and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. with 60.9% and 55% decreases, respectively. Singapore-listed Henan Zhongfu Industrial Co. Ltd, Sichuan Hongda Co. Ltd. and Wintime Energy Co. Ltd were ranked high in the list, with each company's share price falling more than 60% when compared to the 2017 figures.
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