International sales of iron ore exported by country totaled US$122.5 billion in 2019, increasing by 74.2% since 2015 when iron ore shipments were valued at $70.3 billion and expanding 30.3% from 2018 to 2019.
From a continental perspective, Oceania (mostly Australia) sold the greatest amount of exported iron ore at 53.8% of the global total. In second place was Latin America (19.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean trailed by shippers in Europe (9%), Asia (6.9%), Africa (5.9%) and North America (4.9%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for iron ore is 2601.
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of iron ore during 2019.
- Australia: US$65.8 billion (53.8% of total iron ore exports)
- Brazil: $22.2 billion (18.1%)
- South Africa: $5.7 billion (4.7%)
- Canada: $4.9 billion (4%)
- Ukraine: $4 billion (3.3%)
- Sweden: $2.6 billion (2.1%)
- India: $2.2 billion (1.8%)
- Netherlands: $2.1 billion (1.7%)
- Russia: $2.1 billion (1.7%)
- China: $1.5 billion (1.2%)
- Iran: $1.3 billion (1%)
- Mauritania: $1.1 billion (0.9%)
- United States: $988.9 million (0.8%)
- Malaysia: $978.5 million (0.8%)
- Peru: $955.9 million (0.8%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 96.8% of globally exported iron ore in 2019.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing iron ore exporters since 2015 were: China (up 17,407%), India (up 924.4%), Peru (up 173.1%) and Mauritania (up 156.5%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for iron ore during 2019. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s iron ore exports and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Australia: US$65.8 billion (net export surplus up 79.2% since 2015)
- Brazil: $22.1 billion (up 57.3%)
- South Africa: $5.7 billion (up 34.7%)
- Canada: $4.2 billion (up 83.8%)
- Ukraine: $3.5 billion (up 74.6%)
- Sweden: $2.6 billion (up 65.1%)
- India: $2 billion (reversing a -$521.8 million deficit)
- Russia: $1.4 billion (up 158.7%)
- Iran: $1.3 billion (up 218.5%)
- Mauritania: $1.1 billion (up 156.5%)
- Peru: $955.8 million (up 173.1%)
- Kazakhstan: $664.5 million (up 65.8%)
- Chile: $622.1 million (down -14.5%)
- Mongolia: $425.4 million (up 87.2%)
- Liberia: $327.5 million (no 2015 data)
Australia generated the highest surplus in the international trade of iron ore. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms the country nicknamed The Land Down Under‘s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for iron ore during 2019. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s iron ore import purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- China: -US$98.4 billion (net export deficit up 70% since 2015)
- Japan: -$10.9 billion (up 17.2%)
- South Korea: -$6.9 billion (up 41.3%)
- Germany: -$3.9 billion (up 38.8%)
- Taiwan: -$2.3 billion (up 45.3%)
- France: -$1.5 billion (up 79.3%)
- Turkey: -$987.7 million (up 25.8%)
- Netherlands: -$768 million (up 35.8%)
- United Kingdom: -$757.2 million (up 0.6%)
- Belgium: -$713.7 million (up 60.1%)
- Italy: -$682.9 million (up 24.8%)
- Bahrain: -$667.8 million (reversing a $22.2 million surplus)
- Czech Republic: -$602.7 million (up 24.7%)
- Vietnam: -$575.7 million (up 16,813%)
- Spain: -$573.2 million (up 62%)
China incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of iron ore. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights China’s strong competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for iron ore-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand from the highly industrialized Chinese economy.
Iron Ore Exporting Companies
Below are the world’s largest iron ore conglomerates and major iron ore exporting companies. Show within parenthesis is the country where the company is headquartered.
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Rio Tinto (United Kingdom)
- Vale (Brazil)
- Glencore International (Switzerland)
- Anglo American plc (United Kingdom)
- ArcelorMittal (Luxembourg)
- Fortescue Metals Group (Australia)
- Severstal (Russia)
- Vedanta Resources (United Kingdom)
- Evraz Group (United Kingdom)