Massey Energy is one of the largest coal companies in the United States, and certainly one of the most controversial. In April 2010 the company received a great deal of negative attention when an explosion at one of its mines in West Virginia killed 29 workers. It later came out that the mine in question had been cited more than 1,000 times for safety violations, and that Massey had similar problems at many of its other facilities.
South African-based Sasol (South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation) is an integrated energy and chemicals company in the business of mining, oil, gas, and chemical production. It uses a proprietary process to convert coal and gas into liquid fuels and chemicals.
BHP Billiton, known traditionally as Big Australian, is now the largest diversified resource company in the world. Its dual headquarters and dual stock listings in Britain and Australia reflect the fact that the business is the result of the 2001 merger of BHP (formerly Broken Hill Proprietary, a mining giant in Australia) and Billiton of South Africa. Aside from its extensive extractive operations in its home countries, the company is also active in places such as Chile (copper), Colombia (coal and nickel) and Canada (diamonds).
Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, started out in 1873 as a copper operation in Spain. It now has operations on six continents, with the largest presences in Australia and North America. Its products include aluminum, copper, diamonds, coal, uranium, gold, iron ore, and industrial minerals (borates, titanium dioxide, salt, and talc). Rio Tinto, which has dual headquarters in London and Melbourne, is one of the most controversial corporations in a controversial industry.
Over the past decade, Xstrata PLC has used a series of aggressive mergers to grow from an obscure investment vehicle into one of the planet’s largest mining groups, with operations on six continents. Based in Switzerland and listed on the London and Zurich stock exchanges, it is one of the top producers of resources such as chrome, coal, copper, nickel and zinc. Following in the footsteps of older mining giants such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, Xstrata has become embroiled in controversies over its labor, environmental and human rights practices.
Anglo American is one of the world’s largest mining companies, with operations in some 45 countries. The company had its origins in the gold and diamond mines of apartheid South Africa, and after the Second World War it expanded and diversified to the point that it controlled large portions of that country’s economy. It later sold off its non-mining businesses, moved its headquarters to London, and spun off its gold mining operations into the company now called AngloGold Ashanti. Anglo American remains a major player in platinum, copper, coal and diamonds (through its affiliate De Beers).