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Chart: How Every Commodity Performed in 2016

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Presented by:    Sierra Metals

2016 Commodity Performance


2016 Commodity Performance

It was an up and down year for commodities, but things ultimately finished in the black.

The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) climbed 10.1% on the year – it was just enough to edge out the S&P 500, which ended 2016 with a 9.5% return.

Winners in 2016

The biggest winners on the year were base metals and the oil and gas sector.

Here’s how base metals did:

Base MetalQ1Q2Q3Q42016
Iron Ore37.0%-6.2%6.3%31.1%81.0%
Zinc20.0%13.1%-3.2%26.1%65.7%
Nickel-3.1%13.9%11.9%-5.0%17.3%
Aluminum3.8%7.2%1.4%4.0%17.3%
Copper0.1%3.9%-0.5%13.1%17.1%

Iron ore and zinc were the best performing commodities on the face of the planet in 2016. Iron finished up 81%, its first calendar gain in four years. Meanwhile, zinc shot up 65.7% on the year as major zinc mines shut down, and supply stockpiles dwindled.

Oil and gas also posted a major comeback in 2016:

EnergyQ1Q2Q3Q42016
Natural gas-17.0%53.3%-2.7%28.0%58.5%
Oil (Brent)0.6%35.1%-1.2%13.6%52.4%
Oil (WTI)-3.2%37.3%-2.1%11.4%44.9%

It was a volatile year overall, but it appears that the worst of the downturn in energy prices is over.

Losers in 2016

Not all energy-related commodities could be so lucky.

Uranium continued its epic nosedive, losing -41.6% on the year. U3O8 now trades for $20.25/lb, a tiny fraction of its previous highs of over $100/lb in 2007.

Energy LosersQ1Q2Q3Q42016
Uranium-16.0%-7.4%-12.0%-14.7%-41.6%
Coal0.5%-9.3%1.3%0.0%-7.7%

Coal has also performed abysmally, at least in North America where CAPP prices finished down on the year -7.7%. We previously showed the decline of coal in three charts, and it seems that coal will likely continue to be an unpopular choice for utility companies in the U.S. and Canada.

That said, it is worth mentioning that Australian coal prices went bonkers earlier this year due to a Chinese administrative oversight.

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Energy

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium reserves by country, with 3 countries accounting for more than half of total reserves.

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A cropped chart visualizing the distribution of the global uranium reserves, by country.

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

There can be a tendency to believe that uranium deposits are scarce from the critical role it plays in generating nuclear energy, along with all the costs and consequences related to the field.

But uranium is actually fairly plentiful: it’s more abundant than gold and silver, for example, and about as present as tin in the Earth’s crust.

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium resources by country, as of 2021. Figures come from the World Nuclear Association, last updated on August 2023.

Ranked: Uranium Reserves By Country (2021)

Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada have the largest shares of available uranium resources—accounting for more than 50% of total global reserves.

But within these three, Australia is the clear standout, with more than 1.7 million tonnes of uranium discovered (28% of the world’s reserves) currently. Its Olympic Dam mine, located about 600 kilometers north of Adelaide, is the the largest single deposit of uranium in the world—and also, interestingly, the fourth largest copper deposit.

Despite this, Australia is only the fourth biggest uranium producer currently, and ranks fifth for all-time uranium production.

CountryShare of Global
Reserves
Uranium Reserves (Tonnes)
🇦🇺 Australia28%1.7M
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan13%815K
🇨🇦 Canada10%589K
🇷🇺 Russia8%481K
🇳🇦 Namibia8%470K
🇿🇦 South Africa5%321K
🇧🇷 Brazil5%311K
🇳🇪 Niger5%277K
🇨🇳 China4%224K
🇲🇳 Mongolia2%145K
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan2%131K
🇺🇦 Ukraine2%107K
🌍 Rest of World9%524K
Total100%6M

Figures are rounded.

Outside the top three, Russia and Namibia both have roughly the same amount of uranium reserves: about 8% each, which works out to roughly 470,000 tonnes.

South Africa, Brazil, and Niger all have 5% each of the world’s total deposits as well.

China completes the top 10, with a 3% share of uranium reserves, or about 224,000 tonnes.

A caveat to this is that current data is based on known uranium reserves that are capable of being mined economically. The total amount of the world’s uranium is not known exactly—and new deposits can be found all the time. In fact the world’s known uranium reserves increased by about 25% in the last decade alone, thanks to better technology that improves exploration efforts.

Meanwhile, not all uranium deposits are equal. For example, in the aforementioned Olympic Dam, uranium is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining occurring at the same site. In South Africa, it emerges as a byproduct during treatment of ores in the gold mining process. Orebodies with high concentrations of two substances can increase margins, as costs can be shared for two different products.

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