Natural resources are commodities, the raw inputs are used to make everything, from intermediate goods to finished products. These resources are found in the earth among reserves yet to be extracted.
Renewable resources are those with supply not diminished by use, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy. Non-renewable resources like fossil fuels and mined metals have finite reserves depleted by extraction. Natural resources are found throughout the world, though the deposits tend to clump as a result of geological processes.
Which countries have the most valuable natural resource reserves?
The following list is compiled by Statista, a specialist in market and consumer data which offers statistics, reports, and market insights. The data is as of 2021. Note that there are many sources of information that will contain different methodologies, assumptions, values, etc., and that will come up with different lists and conclusions. The following is not to be regarded as definitive. As expected with oil being the world’s most traded and important commodity, the list is dominated by oil producers.
Leading countries worldwide based on natural resource value as of 2021 (in US$ trillions)
Russia’s natural resources reserves are worth $75 trillion by Statista’s estimate. It is not surprising that Russia tops the list as it is the world’s largest country by size – and by a long shot. It constitutes about 11% of the world’s landmass and is almost the size of the US and China combined!
Russia’s resources incorporate coal, oil, natural gas, gold, timber, and rare earth metals. It holds the world’s largest proved natural gas reserves, accounting for nearly 20% of the global total as of 2020, the second largest gold reserves at 6,800 tons (12% of the global total as of 2021), and was the world’s third-largest crude oil producer at 12% of global supply in 2020. Russia’s proved oil reserves were the world’s sixth largest at an estimated 108 billion barrels. In industrial diamonds, the country accounted for a third of 2021 global production and 61% of the commodity’s reserves.
- United States
The estimated value of natural resources in the US is $45 trillion, almost 90% of which are timber and coal. The US is the leading producer of coal. As of 2020, it had the largest proven coal reserves in the world. In recent years, oil extracted by non-conventional means such as fracking is becoming far more significant.
Other resources include substantial copper, gold, oil, and natural gas deposits. Also making the list are lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber, and of course arable land. (Note: The US is a global food producing super-power but those assets are excluded from the methodology used in this list.)
- Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has $34 trillion worth of natural resources—notably oil. The nation has been a leading exporter ever since oil was discovered in 1938. With 15% of the world’s reserves as of 2020, the country’s economy depends heavily on its oil exports. However, natural gas capacity and processing have risen since 2015 while that for oil has decreased.
Saudi Arabia’s other natural resources include copper, feldspar, phosphate, silver, sulphur, tungsten, and zinc.
Fourth on the list is Canada, with an estimated $33 trillion worth of natural resources.
It has the third-largest oil deposits after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Its commodities include industrial minerals such as gypsum, limestone, rock salt, timber, and potash, as well as energy minerals, such as coal and uranium. Metals in Canada include copper, lead, nickel, and zinc, and precious metals gold, platinum, and silver.
Canada is a leading producer of natural gas and has vast water deposits.
Iran’s oil resources are worth an estimated $27 trillion. In 2020, it was the fifth-largest crude oil producer in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OPEC), and the world’s third-largest natural gas producer in 2019. Other natural resources include coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, and sulphur.
China has natural resources estimated to be worth $23 trillion.
Ninety percent of China’s resources are coal and rare earth metals. Timber is another major natural resource, as is arable land. Also, due to its natural resource of water, it has the world’s greatest hydropower potential. Other resources that China possesses include rice, oil, natural gas, and immense amounts of metals such as gold and aluminium, and minerals.
Brazil has natural resources worth $22 trillion including gold, iron, oil, and uranium. In 2019, Brazil was the eighth-largest oil producer in the world. A 2018 estimate found that 62% of its land was forested and 24% was pasture. Its mining industry focuses on bauxite, platinum, copper, gold, iron, and tin. Timber is also a valuable natural resource. Brazil has an immense installed capacity for hydroelectric power production.
Australia has an estimated $20 trillion in natural resources that include coal, iron ore, gold, copper, uranium, and timber.
Australia is about 80% the size of the US, and less than half the size of Russia, but still an extremely large country, sixth in size in global terms and with 5.2% of the world’s landmass. We are large producers of oil and liquified natural gas; following Qatar, we are the leader in LNG exports. Our proven oil reserves measured 2.4 billion barrels at the end of 2021.
Australia is the largest net exporter of coal, with 29% of global coal exports. Other natural resources include iron ore, alumina, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, rare earth elements, mineral sands, lead, zinc, and diamonds.
Iraq possesses $16 trillion in natural resources, with petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, and sulphur. Iraq is the second-largest crude oil producer in OPEC. It ranks as the world’s fifth-largest holder of proven crude oil reserves and it depends on the export of crude oil for a major amount of its revenues.
Venezuela has natural resources estimated at $14 trillion. Including oil, natural gas, and iron ore.
As of 2019, it was the fourth-largest oil producing member of OPEC. In 2020, it had the largest proven oil reserves on the globe. It also has the tenth-largest reserves of natural gas. Other natural resources include iron ore, gold, bauxite, hydropower, and diamonds.
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