From a continental perspective, Oceania led by Australia sold the greatest amount of exported iron ore at 50.4% of the global total. In second place was Latin America (23.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean trailed by shippers in Europe (7.6%), Asia (7.4%), North America (5.5%) then Africa (5.4%).
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 2018.
- Australia: US$46.7 billion (50.4% of total iron ore exports)
- Brazil: $20.2 billion (21.8%)
- South Africa: $4.2 billion (4.6%)
- Canada: $4.1 billion (4.4%)
- Ukraine: $2.9 billion (3.1%)
- Sweden: $2.4 billion (2.6%)
- Russia: $1.6 billion (1.7%)
- India: $1.2 billion (1.3%)
- Oman: $1.1 billion (1.2%)
- Bahrain: $989.7 million (1.1%)
- United States: $981.2 million (1.1%)
- Chile: $973.4 million (1.1%)
- Malaysia: $857.4 million (0.9%)
- Iran: $841.6 million (0.9%)
- China: $793.2 million (0.9%)
The listed 15 countries shipped 97% of global iron ore exports in 2018 by value.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing iron ore exporters since 2014 were: China (up 4,662%), Malaysia (up 101.9%), Oman (up 72.6%), Bahrain (up 67%) and India (up 42.8%).
Those countries that posted declines in their exported iron ore sales were led by: South Africa (down -38.6%), Australia (down -32.9%), United States (down -27.1%), Iran (down -24.9%) and Brazil (down -21.7%).
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)
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for iron ore during 2018. 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$74.2 billion (net export deficit down -20.6% since 2014)
- Japan: -$9.3 billion (down -41.5%)
- South Korea: -$5.4 billion (down -36.5%)
- Germany: -$3.6 billion (down -25.3%)
- Taiwan: -$1.9 billion (down -22.8%)
- France: -$1.3 billion (down -19.9%)
- Egypt: -$1 billion (up 91.4%)
- Turkey: -$949.6 million (down -3.5%)
- Saudi Arabia: -$921.5 million (down -22%)
- United Kingdom: -$782.1 million (down -47.3%)
- Netherlands: -$772.9 million (up 8.3%)
- United Arab Emirates: -$761.6 million (up 37.3%)
- Italy: -$711.7 million (down -30.1%)
- Belgium: -$686.4 million (down -3.6%)
- Argentina: -$610.1 million (down -17%)
China incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of iron ore. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights China’s strong competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for iron ore-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand from the highly industrialized Chinese economy.
List of Iron Ore Exporting Countries in 2018
|Rank||Exporter||Iron Ore Exports (US$)||%Total|