What Companies are in the Basic Industries field?

Discover the prominent companies operating in the Basic Industries sector. Explore top 20 companies involved in extracting, refining, and manufacturing.


Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  16 February 2024

Companies in Basic Industries Field

Also known as foundational industries or primary industries, basic industries contribute to the whole economy by providing essentials like raw materials and energy resources to other industries.

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Most companies in this sector are involved in deriving and processing natural resources, such as fossil fuels, minerals, and crops.

The products of this sector are sold chiefly to manufacturers rather than consumers. The companies that produce these products are the first stage in the supply chain of various goods. In economics, these products are usually referred to as basic materials. These products are semi-finished goods that require further processing by manufacturing industries to become finished goods. For example, a company in the basic industries sector extracts gold ore from the earth and refines it. After the gold is refined, a jewelry manufacturing company uses it to create gold ornaments. Due to this, the market for basic industries products is dependent on the demand for the goods they are used to produce.

Basic industries products like oil and basic chemicals make up a significant part of America’s exports and are a major contributor to the country’s economy. The sector plays an important role in all aspects of the economy, be it employment generation or financial investments. It accounts for nearly 30 percent of employment in the USA and over 300 passive investment vehicles. Not only is basic industries one of the highest revenue-generating sectors in the U.S. but is vital to the world economy as a whole too.

Main Segments in Basic Industries

The sector includes a diverse set of industries including metals, oil and gas, mining, timber, and paper. Sometimes, utilities and transportation are also included in the sector. Below are the core industries that make up this sector.

  1. Agriculture: Our civilization is based on agriculture, and the agriculture industry is the most important of all basic industries. This sector fulfills the ever-growing food demand of the world and is a major contributor to the U.S. economy. About half of the country's area is agricultural land, and agricultural exports generate billions in revenue for the country each year. Wheat, corn, and soy are the major agricultural products of the country, produced predominantly in the Midwest. Poultry and dairy products are also included in this segment.
  2. Oil and Gas: By revenue, the petroleum and natural gas industries are the biggest industries in the world, and at least three of the biggest companies in America are involved in the oil and gas business. The whole world depends primarily on this industry to fulfill its energy needs, and it occupies a place of immense importance in world economy. However, in terms of employment opportunities, the oil and gas industry is a relatively small industry. The industry is divided into three main segments, which are:
    • Upstream: Companies in this sector are primarily involved in the exploration, discovery, and extraction of oil and gas resources.
    • Midstream: Midstream operations involve the storage and transportation of the extracted products. Companies in this segment construct and operate pipelines, storage facilities, CNG terminals, and so on.
    • Downstream: This involves refining and processing the oil and gas into marketable products and selling them. Products include gasoline, diesel, lubricants, petrochemicals, and so on.
  3. Metals and Steel Processing: This industry provides important metals like iron, copper, and aluminum for a wide range of manufacturing and construction functions. Steel, which is produced by combining iron with other substances, is a particularly important product of this industry. The companies in this industry shape metals into usable forms through various processes like casting, forging, extrusion, rolling, and fabrication. From beams in buildings and bridges to machines and machine parts, metals are used everywhere, and in 2022, the global iron and steel market size was valued at 1,599.4 billion U.S. dollars. In addition to construction metals, the industry also includes precious metals like gold and silver.
  4. Basic Chemicals: The companies in this industry make chemicals and chemical products that serve as ingredients or additives in other industries. These mainly include four segments – petrochemicals, fertilizers, organic chemicals, and inorganic chemicals. Petrochemicals are made from petroleum and natural gas and are used to make plastics, detergents, rubber, synthetic fibers, etc. Organic chemicals are used in water treatment, agriculture, glass manufacturing, etc., while inorganic chemicals are used in dyes, solvents, and pharmaceuticals. Together, these different segments make up a major economic sector that is growing very fast. The global market size of basic chemicals was about $651 billion in 2020, and the number is projected to increase by over 50% by 2030.
  5. Mining: Companies in the mining industry are involved in extracting valuable substances from the earth, notably minerals, metal ores, and coal. The mined substances may include anything from iron ore and coal to precious metals like gold and silver or precious stones like diamonds. Mining is a large enterprise with very heavy capital requirements, and it includes relatively few companies. It is also one of the most profitable industries in the world. In 2022, the revenue of the 40 leading companies in the industry amounted to about 943 U.S. dollars.

Top Twenty Companies in Basic Industries

Here is a list of the leading companies in different segments of basic industries:

Metals and Steel Processing


Headquarters location -  Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A. 
Revenue - $39.729 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.2 

Nucor is an American company that produces steel and different kinds of steel products. It was founded in 1940 and was originally called the Nuclear Corporation of America. Today, the company is the largest producer of steel in the U.S. Nucor produces a wide range of steel-based products, including hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and galvanized sheet steel, beams, plates, joist grinders, wire mesh, etc. Nucor is also involved in recycling projects and is committed to using scrap steel as a raw material for manufacturing. Some of the major independent subsidiaries of Nucor include Nucor Skyline, Harris Rebar, Nucor Fastener, and Nucor Cold Finish. Nucor employs more than 28,800 people.

2. U.S. Steel

Headquarters location - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A
Revenue - $20.301 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.5

Founded in 1901 by J.P. Morgan himself, U.S. Steel has a long history in America’s steel industry. It carries out large-scale steel production in Europe as well as the U.S. It was the first billion-dollar corporation in the world, and at one point in time, U.S. Steel used to be not only the largest producer of steel globally but the biggest company in the world. The product portfolio of the organization includes various steel products like pipes, tubes, and hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and coated sheet steel. U.S. Steel employs more than 24,540 people.

3. Wheaton Precious Metals

Headquarters location - Vancouver, Canada
Revenue - $1.06 billion (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 5.0

Wheaton Precious Metals is a streaming company that offers upfront investment to other precious metal mining companies in exchange for the rights to purchase a portion of their future production at discounted prices. It is one of the biggest streaming companies in the world. Most of its streaming agreements are with mines located in the Americas and Europe. Wheaton is primarily involved in streaming gold, silver, palladium, and other precious metals. The organization works closely with its streaming partners to ensure environment-friendly mining practices. In 2022, the company had 41 employees.

4. Vale SA

Headquarters - Rio De Janeiro
Revenue -  $41.461 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.3

Vale is a Brazilian multinational company that produces iron ore, nickel, manganese, bauxite, potash, kaolin, cobalt, and coal. The company is the largest producer of iron ore and nickel in the world. It operates mines in other countries besides Brazil as well, and owns major nickel mines in Indonesia and Canada. In total, Vale has a presence in 30 countries. Vale owns the Serra Sul mine, which is the largest mining reserve in the world. The organization is also involved in logistics and owns railway networks, ports, and terminals in Brazil. Vale SA employs more than 64,516 people.

5. Cleveland-Cliffs Inc

Headquarters - Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
Revenue - $22.329 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.7

Established in 1847, Cleveland-Cliffs is one of America’s oldest metal mining companies and one of the largest iron ore producers in North America. The organization is primarily engaged in the production and supply of iron ore and iron ore pellets and operates mainly in the U.S. and Canada. The two major mines operated by the company in the U.S. are the Tiden Mine in Michigan and the Northshore Mine in Minnesota. After acquiring the AK Steel Holding Corporation in 2020, Cleveland-Cliffs has expanded its operations into steel manufacturing as well. Besides iron and steel, it produces other metallic and non-metallic minerals, like metallurgical coal and ferroalloys as well. Cleveland-Cliffs employs about 27,000 people.


6. Dow Chemical Company

Headquarters - Midland, Michigan, U.S.A.
Revenue - $53.489 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.0 

Dow is an American multinational chemical manufacturing company. It was established as a bleach company in 1897, and today, it is the largest basic chemicals company in the world that manufactures chemicals to sell to other chemical companies. It has a global presence and operates in about 160 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. In addition to plastics, it also produces agricultural products, performance materials, specialty materials, and more. It is also a leading producer of polymers and plastics, including polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polycarbonate. Dow employs about 37,800 people.

7. LyondellBasell Industries Holdings

Headquarters - Huston, Texas, U.S.A.
Revenue - $47.541 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.5

Commonly known as LyondellBasell, it is an American multinational company specializing in the manufacture of chemicals, plastics, and refining products.The company took its current form in 2007 upon the merger of Lyondell Chemical Company and Basel Polyolefins. The organization is one of the largest producers of polyethylene and polypropylene. It also operates facilities that produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum derivatives. The company has a significant presence in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. It is publicly traded and has a rich investment portfolio consisting of 37 investments. LyondellBasell employs 19,300 people.

8. Momentive Performance Materials Worldwide LLC

Headquarters - Waterford, New York 
Revenue - $480.9 million (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.8

Momentive Performance Materials Worldwide, commonly known as Momentive, is a global specialty chemicals manufacturing company. It was formed in 2010 when Apollo Global Management acquired GE Advanced Materials. In 2019, it was ranked the 64th largest private company in the U.S. by Forbes. It has a significant presence in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. It is primarily engaged in producing silicones, ceramics, urethane additives, quartz, and various other specialty products. These products are used in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, electronics, construction, healthcare, energy, and personal care. Momentive employs about 9,200 people.


Headquarters - Ludwigshafen, Germany
Revenue -  $87.562 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.1

Commonly known as BASF, BASF SE (Baden Aniline and Soda Factory) is a German multinational chemicals manufacturing company with the slogan ‘We create chemistry’ (for a sustainable future). It was founded in 1865. Its operations are spread over the Americas, Europe, Asia, Europe, and Africa in more than 80 countries. The company has customers in more than 190 countries, and besides chemicals, it also produces performance materials, agricultural solutions, and petroleum derivatives. BASF's range of products mainly includes building blocks, plastics, chemicals, coatings for cars, and chemicals used for treating water. BASF SE employs more than 111,047 people.


Headquarters - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 
Revenue - $198.47 billion  (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.8

SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) is a Saudi Arabian multinational chemical manufacturing company. It is a state-owned company established in 1976. The Sudi government initially created this company to convert leftover petroleum into helpful chemicals. Now, it has become one of the biggest chemical companies globally, with 40 manufacturing plants spread across 60 countries. It manufactures a wide range of petrochemicals, specialty chemicals, plastics, and polymers. The petrochemicals produced by the company include propylene, polyethylene, methanol, and other basic chemicals. It also produces coatings, adhesives, sealants, and textiles. SABIC employs 32,721 people.

Oil and Gas

11. Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

Headquarters - Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Revenue - $588.88 billion  (For the year ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.1 

Popularly known as Saudi Aramco, it is one of the biggest companies in the world. It was established in 1933. It is traded on the Sudi Arabia Stock Exchange and is primarily involved in the production of petroleum, natural gas, and petroleum derivatives. It supplies a significant portion of the world’s petroleum demand. The company owns the world’s second-largest crude oil reserves and operates over a hundred oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, and the government of the country owns 90% of the country. Saudi Aramco employs about 70,000 people.

12. Exxon Mobil

Headquarters - Spring, Texas, U.S.A.
Revenue -  $409.744 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.6  

Exon Mobil is an American multinational oil and gas company. It is the biggest oil and gas company headquartered in the West. The company took its current form in 1999 with the merger of Exon and Mobil. It ranks 12th on the Fortune Global 500 list for 2022 and is counted among the most influential companies in the world. After Sinofec, Exon Mobil is the second-largest refiner of oil in the world. The company also has a chemicals division, which produces petrochemical products like plastic and synthetic rubber. Exon Mobil employs about 62,000 people.

13. Chevron Corp

Headquarters - San Ramon, California, U.S.A.
Revenue - $232.24 billion  (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.2

Chevron is a global American energy corporation. Oil and gas is the main business of the organization, though it has also been exploring alternate sources of energy. In 2022, the organization acquired Renewable Energy Group, which is a biodiesel production company in Iowa. The organization’s slogan, ‘’The Human Energy Company'’, launched in 2017, is really popular, particularly in the US. With revenues of $162.5 billion in 2022, the company bagged the 37th position on the Fortune Global 500. It operates in 180 countries, including the US, Australia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Angola, and the Gulf of Mexico, and employs about 43,846 people.

14. BP p.l.c.

Headquarters - London, England
Revenue -  $254.622 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.8

BP is a British multinational energy minerals company that operates in all areas of the oil and gas industry, from extraction to selling. It was one of the first major crude oil companies to expand its focus to renewable sources of energy, including solar, wind, and biofuels. The company owns nine wind energy facilities in different states in the U.S. In the past, the company operated under the names The British Petroleum Company p.l.c. and BP Amoco p.l.c. Popular brands like Castrol, Amoco, and Aral are all owned by BP, and the company employs about 67,600 people.

15. Valero

Headquarters - San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
Revenue - $174.280 billion (For the twelve months ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.0 

Valero is an American multinational energy company involved in downstream operations such as refining and marketing oil and gas products. It primarily produces petroleum derivatives used in automobiles like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petrochemical products. The company began as a small regional petroleum refining and retail concern in Texas, and today it is the largest petroleum refining company in the world and the second-largest provider of renewable energy. Valro owns multiple Ethanol production facilities and operates sixteen windmills in America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The company owns convenience stores, truck stops, and retail outlets as well. Valero employs 10,015 people.


16. Rio Tinto

Headquarters - London, England
Revenue - $55.6 billion (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.9

Founded in 1873, Rio Tinto is a global metals and mining company with a rich history. Its operations span 35 countries on six continents, however, it operates mostly in Australia and Canada. The company mines iron ore, aluminum, copper, diamonds, gold, coal, and uranium. Though primarily focused on mining, the refining of bauxite and iron ore is also a major enterprise of the firm. Rio Tinto also operates the Argyle diamond mine in Australia, which is famous for its rare pink diamonds. It is listed on two exchanges: the London Stock Exchange and the Australian Securities Exchange. Rio Tinto employs about 45,000 people.

17. BHP Group Ltd.

Headquarters - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Revenue - $65.098 billion (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 4.1

BHP is an Australian multinational mining company that is also involved in oil and natural gas. The company was founded in 1885 in Australia, and today it has a truly global presence. The main products in the company’s portfolio include iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, petroleum, and natural gas. BHP is a major producer of iron ore, particularly in Western Australia. The company’s major copper mines are located in Chile, Peru, and the US. As for coal, most of the company’s coal mines are in Australia. BHP employs about 80,000 people.

18. Glencore plc

Headquarters - Baar, Switzerland
Revenue - $255.984 billion (For the year 2022)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.7 

Glencore is a Swiss multinational mining and commodities trading company. In 2022, Glencore was the world’s largest commodities trading company. The company took its current form in 2013 through a merger of Xstrata and Glencore. It operates mining operations in various countries, including Colombia, Australia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Zambia, Ecuador, and Canada. Glencore takes pride in its efforts to minimize its environmental footprint and recycling projects. It is a champion of sustainable development and is committed to responsible practices across all its occupations. Glencore employs about 135,000 people.

19. Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd.

Headquarters - Guixi, Jiangxi, China
Revenue -  $71.3 billion (For the 12 months ending March 31)
Glassdoor Ratings -  3.9

Jiangxi Copper is a Chinese copper mining company. Founded in 1979, the company is a major supplier of mainland China’s copper demand today. In addition to copper, it is also involved in the mining, smelting, and refining of other non-ferrous metals like gold, silver, lead, zinc, and rare metals. It makes a wide range of copper-related products like copper alloys, copper rods, copper cathodes, sulfuric acid, and more. It owns mines in Jiangxi, Xinjiang, Tibet, and other provinces and collaborates with other domestic as well as international mining concerns. The company is known for its large-scale mining projects and employs about 34,000 people.

20. Hindalco Industries Ltd.

Headquarters - Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Revenue - $27.47 billion (For the year ending March 31, 2023)
Glassdoor Ratings - 3.9

Hindalco Industries is an Indian copper and aluminum company. The company was established in 1958 and is a subsidiary of the Aditya Birla Group. It is one of the biggest producers of aluminum in the world. It is involved in bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminum smelting, and the manufacturing of different aluminum products. The company’s aluminum products include sheets, foils, rolled products, extrusions, and ingots. The copper portfolio of the company includes products like copper rods and cathodes, which are sold internationally as well as regionally. Hindalco employs about 40,000 people.

Common Features of Companies in Basic Industries

‘’Basic industries’’ is clearly a broad term; however, in the most popular usage, it refers to the collection of companies that produce things used as inputs in manufacturing, either as raw materials or fuel.

As you can see from the list in the previous section, there is a really wide variety of businesses that are included in basic industries. However, there are some features that are common to most segments of basic industries. For example, basic industries products are mostly focused on export rather than domestic consumption. Other common characteristics of basic industries include:

  • Essential Goods: Companies in basic industries produce goods that are essential in nature,i.e., they cannot be done away with. All industries rely on the oil and gas mining industry for energy, and all kinds of manufacturing concerns are directly dependent on companies that extract and refine iron ore. Some basic industries goods are not only crucial for the operation of other industries but for our day-to-day lives as well. The agriculture industry, for instance, is not only essential for the packaged food industry but for our basic food needs too.
  • Reliance on Natural Resources: Basic industries are closely tied to natural resources. Soil is necessary for agriculture and forests are essential to the paper industry. Meanwhile, the natural gas, oil, and metals industries are directly dependent on natural reserves of minerals, metals, and fossil fuels.
  • Capital intensive and low competition: Almost all businesses in the sector require a heavy capital investment. As a result, there are fewer companies in the basic industries in comparison to other major economic sectors like consumer goods and capital goods.
  • Skilled lower-level workforce: The sector has a great demand for skilled laborers and workers in trade jobs. The sector abounds in occupations that don’t require a specific educational qualification but rather a specific skill set, such as equipment operators, oil rig workers, loggers, and so on.
  • Inputs for production: Most of the products of the companies in basic industries are used as inputs for production in other manufacturing concerns. Agriculture produce is used for making food products, metals extracted from the earth are used for manufacturing and construction, and timber is used for making carpentry items. So, the raw materials that basic industries process are again used as raw materials in other industries.
  • Environmental concerns: Many segments of basic industries pose a threat to the environment in different forms, from carbon emissions to the destruction of natural habitats. The mining industry is responsible for large-scale soil erosion and land degradation. The timber industry causes deforestation, which has a myriad of adverse effects on the environment. The oil industry causes water pollution in the form of oil spills into the ocean that occur due to accidents like pipeline ruptures and well blowouts.


What is the difference between basic and non-basic industries?

While basic industries produce raw materials, non-basic industries utilize these raw materials for production. In other words, non-basic industries use the products of basic industries to produce their products. These mostly include manufacturing companies In addition to manufacturing concerns, non-basic industries also include tertiary industries.

Most of the companies in non-basic industries are much smaller in comparison to those in basic industries. They mostly include tertiary industries, though secondary industries are sometimes regarded as non-basic industries as well.

Tertiary industries include enterprises that sell services, e.g. healthcare, IT, retail and wholesale, logistics and transportation, hospitality and tourism, education, etc. Secondary industries include enterprises that use products provided by basic industries to produce their products. Examples include companies dealing in electronics, automobiles, clothing and textiles, construction, etc.

How many jobs are available in non-basic industries?

Basic industries are responsible for creating large-scale employment in a wide range of occupations. Nearly 30% of all the people employed in the U.S. work in this sector. In 2022, there were 73,010 openings in oil and gas jobs worldwide. In April 2023, there were 9,140 job openings in mining and logging across the U.S. Currently, the U.S. iron and steel manufacturing industry employs around 65,106 people. Common jobs in basic industries include petroleum engineer, mining engineer, metallurgist, geologist, synthetic chemist, and agricultural scientist. The sector also generates more blue-collar jobs than any other sector. These include a large number of both general labor jobs as well as specialized occupations like miner and oil rig worker.

Is basic industries a good career path?

It depends entirely on individual qualifications and preferences. However, generally, it is a great sector for anyone looking for a career in a mega company. The sector is dominated by large-scale, multinational companies. So, in addition to job stability and security, you can also get the opportunity to have an international career in a leading global company. The sector may not be the best option for the environmentally conscious, though. Mining and oil and gas companies often make the news for causing large-scale degradation, and working for these companies may not accord with some people’s values. Moreover, some jobs in the sector require you to work in hazardous surroundings, which may have long-term health consequences.

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