Chemicals & Resources

Chemicals and (natural) resources are interconnected industries, and they are the building blocks of our intricate built environment. The chemical sector is one of the most influential industries in the world as many industries – the plastics industry, food industry, automobile industry, glass industry, and many more – are highly dependent on chemical materials.

The resources sector is also very influential, encompassing many of the global economy’s key commodities, including fossil fuels, pulp and paper, metals, and minerals. Energy harnessed from fossil fuels is still a cornerstone of the industrialized world. Metals and minerals are often the only material option for many industries, especially the high-tech sector, and precious metals like gold and silver are still driving world finance.

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  • Total revenue of the chemical industry worldwide from 2005 to 2022 (in billion U.S. dollars)
    Sep 15, 2023

    In 2022, the chemical industry’s total worldwide revenue stood at some 5.72 trillion U.S. dollars. In that year, the chemical industry revenue reached the highest value of the last 15 years.

    The chemical industry of today The world’s chemical industry consists of the companies that produce industrial chemicals by converting raw materials such as fossil fuels, minerals and metals, and water into thousands of different products. The chemical industry overlaps with the plastic industry, as the majority of chemical companies are also plastic producers.

    Industry leaders: segmental and regional perspective The chemical industry plays an important role in the global economy. Over the three years from 2021 to 2024, the industry is expected to grow in every segment, with overall industry growth expected to be 1.8 percent in 2024. Basic chemicals are expected to see the largest growth of any chemical segment, at 2.1 percent forecast for 2024. Regionally speaking, Asia has the largest share of the global chemicals market by far. It has consistently accounted for more than 50 percent of the global chemicals market since 2012. Accordingly, Asian chemical companies also hold prominent places: based on net income, the world’s leading chemical company as of 2022 was Dow.

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  • Demand for crude oil worldwide from 2005 to 2023, with a forecast for 2024 (in million barrels per day)
    Apr 13, 2024

    The global demand for crude oil (including biofuels) in 2023 amounted to 102.21 million barrels per day. The source expects economic activity and related oil demand to pick up by the end of the year, with forecast suggesting it could increase to more than 104 million barrels per day.

    Motor fuels make up majority of oil demand Oil is an important and versatile substance, used in different ways and in different forms for many applications. The road sector is the largest oil consuming sector worldwide. It accounts for nearly one half of the global demand for oil, largely due to reliance on motor spirits made from petroleum. The OPEC projects global oil product demand to reach 110 million barrels per day by 2045, with transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel expected to remain the most consumed products. Diesel and gasoil demand is forecast to amount to 30.1 million barrels per day in 2045, up from 27.6 million barrels in 2021. Gasoline demand is forecast at 27.6 million barrels by 2045.

    Beyond oil - efforts made by an industry looking to cut carbon intensity Despite oil producing bodies such as the OPEC seeing continued importance for crude oil in the future, efforts have been made within the energy industry in finding an alternative to the fossil fuel. One such alternative generating great enthusiasm is hydrogen. The most abundant chemical element in the universe has become of particular interest due to its potential as an energy carrier. Similar to oil, it may serve as a feedstock or main ingredient for transportation fuels, energy generation and storage, and also chemicals production. While today it is mainly won from natural gas conversion (so-called grey hydrogen), most investments are aimed at making hydrogen production through electrolysis using renewable electricity (green hydrogen) more cost efficient. Oil refineries and ammonia production facilities are main consumers of hydrogen, with the transportation sector accounting for a much lesser share.

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  • Annual production of plastics worldwide from 1950 to 2022 (in million metric tons)
    Oct 19, 2023

    The worldwide production of plastics reached a staggering 400.3 million metric tons in 2022. This marks an increase of about 1.6 percent from the previous year. Plastics production has soared since 1950s. The incredible versatility of this group of materials accounts for the continued growth in production year after year. In tandem with that growth, the market value of plastics also continues to grow.

    What plastics are and how they are made Plastics are used in a wide variety of products and have displaced other materials – such as wood, metal, and glass – that were previously used for the applications that plastics now dominate. One of the main applications for plastics use is plastic packaging. The production of plastic requires four basic steps: the acquirement of raw material, synthesizing a basic polymer, compounding the polymer into a usable fraction, and lastly, molding or shaping the plastic.

    Leading plastic producers Asia is the largest plastics producer in the world. China alone accounted for 32 percent of global production in 2022. In recent years, China produced between six and 12 million metric tons of plastic products each month. North America ranks second worldwide in terms of plastic production, with a share of 17 percent in 2022.

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  • Leading mining companies worldwide based on market capitalization in May 2024 (in billion U.S. dollars)
    May 8, 2024

    As of May 2024, mining company BHP reached a market capitalization of nearly 146 billion U.S. dollars. 

    Top mining companies worldwide

    Based on market capitalization in 2024, BHP, Rio Tinto, and Southern Copper Corporation were the three leading mining companies in the world. Headquartered in Australia, BHP’s revenue more than doubled between 2004 and 2014, growing from 24.9 billion to 52.1 billion U.S. dollars, and reached a peak of 65.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. In 2023 BHP's revenue decreased again to 53.8 billion U.S. dollars. On the other side of the world from Australia, London is also the headquarters of some of the world's most prominent mining companies, including Rio Tinto, Anglo American, and Antofagasta. Rio Tinto's main segments are categorized based on the company's main mineral products produced: aluminum, iron ore, copper, and other minerals. 

    Where gold mining companies are based

    Several of the world's largest gold mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Barrick Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines are both based in Canada and are among the largest mining companies in the world. However, gold producers from South Africa, the United States, Australia, and other countries are also among the global leaders in gold production. Regulations have been formed in order to harmonize and stabilize the mining sector, especially within mineral-rich countries.

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  • Closing price of Brent, OPEC basket, and WTI crude oil at the beginning of each week from July 18, 2022 to July 15, 2024 (in U.S. dollars per barrel)
    Jul 16, 2024

    On July 15, 2024, the Brent crude oil price stood at 84.88 U.S. dollars per barrel, compared to 81.91 U.S. dollars for WTI oil and 85.31 U.S. dollars for the OPEC basket. Europe's Brent crude oil, the U.S. WTI crude oil, and OPEC's basket are three of the most important benchmarks used by traders as reference for oil and gasoline prices.

    Lowest ever oil prices during coronavirus pandemic

    In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in crude oil prices hitting a major slump as oil demand drastically declined following lockdowns and travel restrictions. Initial outlooks and uncertainty surrounding the course of the pandemic brought about a disagreement between two of the largest oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, in early March. Bilateral talks between global oil producers ended in agreement on April 13th, with promises to cut petroleum output and hopes rising that these might help stabilize the oil price in the coming weeks. However, with storage facilities and oil tankers quickly filling up, fears grew over where to store excess oil, leading to benchmark prices seeing record negative prices between April 20 and April 22, 2020.

    How crude oil prices are determined

    As with most commodities, crude oil prices are impacted by supply and demand, as well as inventories and market sentiment. However, as oil is most often traded in future contracts (whereby a contract is agreed upon, while the product delivery will follow in the next two to three months), market speculation is one of the principal determinants for oil prices. Traders make conclusions on how production output and consumer demand will likely develop over the coming months, leaving room for uncertainty. Spot prices differ from futures in so far as they reflect the current market price of a commodity.

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  • Production volume of paper and paperboard worldwide from 1961 to 2022 (in million metric tons)
    Dec 21, 2023

    The global production volume of paper and paperboard was approximately 414.09 million metric tons in 2022. This was an increase of over four percent in comparison to the previous year. Since 2010, global production of paper and paperboard has remained relatively stable, averaging roughly 400 million metric tons per year.

    Global paper producing regions China is the world’s largest paper producer by far, with a production output of 125 million metric tons in 2021. The United States ranked second that year, producing 67.5 million metric tons. China’s paper production far outweighs all other paper producers and, as a whole, Asia dominates regional global paper production, with a 49.5 percent share. While the adoption of technology has reduced the global consumption of certain types of paper such as newsprint, the overall consumption, and therefore production, of paper is growing. For example, packaging paper and board production has steadily increased in the past decade, while graphic paper production has steadily declined in that time.

    End uses of paper When broken down by grade, corrugated material accounts for the largest share of paper produced worldwide, at roughly 44 percent. Printing and writing paper is the second most produced paper grade, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the global production.

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  • 2023 ranking of the global leading chemical companies based on revenue (in billion U.S. dollars)
    Apr 11, 2023

    The German chemical company BASF was ranked number one in the ranking of the world's leading chemical companies based on revenue, generating a revenue of approximately 94.85 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Follow this link to get access to the top 100 chemical companies list.

    Revenue of the top chemical companies worldwide Chemical companies produce and develop industrial chemicals through the conversion of raw materials –organic and inorganic- into a wide variety of products. Chemical production is classified into two separate categories. There are specialty batch manufacturers that produce more expensive chemicals that are less commonly used within the chemical market. These performance chemicals are often produced by smaller manufacturers. On the other hand, commodity manufacturers tend to produce a large volume of basic and inexpensive compounds. The production of organic polymers for plastics, fibers, and elastomers are a rapidly growing sector of the chemical industry.

    Leading chemical manufacturing countries The chemical manufacturing industry in the United States is quite prominent, with companies such as Dow, DuPont, and LyondellBasell Industries. The chemical sector in Europe is also very prominent, as demonstrated by the fact that represents a great proportion of their manufacturing trade surplus. Europe (and the European Union) is one of the largest chemical trading regions in the world. With Germany accounting for the largest share of total EU chemical revenue. Three of Germany’s chemical companies are considered some of the largest in the world. German companies BASF and Bayer are consistently among the largest earning chemical companies in the world. BASF operates on a global scale and maintains its segmental operations in chemicals, materials, surface technologies, nutrition and care, industrial solutions, and agricultural solutions. With headquarters around the world, Bayer is known for marketing heroin in the past and branding aspirin.

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  • Leading natural rubber producing countries worldwide in 2023 (in 1,000 metric tons)
    Jun 25, 2024

    Thailand produced 4.7 million metric tons of natural rubber in 2023. That volume accounted for approximately one-third of of global natural rubber production that year. This made Thailand the world’s leading natural rubber producing country.

    Natural rubber production in Asia Despite natural rubber being native to the Amazon basin, approximately 90 percent of the world’s current rubber supply is grown in Asia. Much of this comes from Southeast Asia – specifically Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. These four countries accounted for roughly 70 percent of the global value of natural rubber exports in 2021.

    Which country consumes the most natural rubber? China is the world’s biggest consumer of natural rubber by far. China consumed 5.7 million metric tons of natural rubber in 2021, accounting for more than 40 percent of global natural rubber consumption that year.

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  • Mine production of gold worldwide from 2010 to 2023 (in metric tons)
    Jan 29, 2024

    In 2023, worldwide gold production stood at 3,000 metric tons. Gold is a transition metal known for its bright lustrous yellow coloring. For industrial purposes, its malleability, ductility, and resistance to corrosion and many chemical reactions makes it ideal for applications such as electrical connectors, infrared shielding, and gold leafing.

    Key facts about the gold mining industry The global mine production of gold has steadily increased following the 2008 economic crisis. In 2010, gold mine production worldwide totaled 2,560 metric tons, and it has surpassed 3,000 metric tons in each year since 2015. China is currently leading the global gold mining countries, with an estimated 370 metric tons produced in 2023, while Australia came in a close second, producing about 310 metric tons in the same year.

    As of 2022, the world's most productive gold mine was the Muruntau mine complex, located in Uzbekistan. Gold can be mined through several different processes including placer mining, panning, sluicing, and dredging. Panning is a manual technique that uses a shallow pan filled with sand and gravel, that may also contain gold, to sort through the material. The precious metal can also be produced as a byproduct often with copper mining.

    Gold's end uses Gold is also highly valued as a precious metal for use in coins, investments, and jewelry. In the second quarter of 2023, gold's primary uses worldwide were jewelry production and as an investment, which accounted for about 491 and 256 metric tons of gold, respectively, at that time.

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  • Major countries in worldwide cement production in 2023 (in million metric tons)
    Jan 29, 2024

    In 2023, cement production in the United States amounted to some 91 million metric tons. Thus, the United States was ranked as the fourth leading cement producer globally.

    Cement producer nations: Asia in the leadChina produces the most cement globally by a large margin, at an estimated 2.1 billion metric tons in 2022. China's cement production share equates to over half of the world’s cement. India was the world's second-largest cement producer, with production amounting to a distant 370 million metric tons in 2022. Vietnam was the third-largest global producer that year, at 120 million metric tons.

    Cement producing companies Following China's ranking as the world's largest cement producing nation, the Chinese company Anhui Conch Cement was the world's leading cement manufacturer based on market capitalization as of 2022, at over 34 billion U.S. dollars. Another Chinese company, Xinjiang Tianshan Cement, came in fourth place in this ranking. Aside from those two Chinese companies in leading positions in the ranking, a mixture of European and Asian companies account for the remaining positions. Case in point, in a close second next to Anhui Conch Cement that year was Holcim, the Swiss-French cement company, which had a 32.1 billion U.S. dollar market cap that year.

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Industry Definition

The chemicals and resources category provides information about the chemicals industry (excluding pharmaceuticals) and its numerous sub-sectors, and the various major natural resource industries: fossil fuels and petroleum products, mining, minerals, and metals, pulp and paper, as well as intersecting products such as plastic and rubber.

Statista provides information on the key metrics by which these industries are measured: reserves, production, and consumption (supply and demand), as well as prices, M&A activity, and other economic indicators for the wide array of chemical products and resource commodities covered.

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