The World’s Most Resource-Rich Countries

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10. Venezuela
> Total resource value: $14.3 trillion
> Oil reserves (value): 99.4 billion barrels ($11.7 trillion)
> Natural gas reserves (value): 170.9 cu. ft. ($1.9 trillion)
> Timber reserves (value): not in top 10

Venezuela is among the 10 largest resource holders for iron, natural gas and oil. The South American nation’s natural gas reserves are eighth in the world at 170.9 trillion cubic feet. These reserves account for just over 2.7% of global supply. Venezuela’s oil wealth of 99 billion barrels is the sixth-largest in the world, and account for 7.4% of total global supply. This is based on an estimate that does not include another 97 billion barrels of the country’s extra heavy sour crude, which OPEC included last year in its report on the cartel’s resources. When that estimate is included, Venezuela’s position on this list jumps substantially.

9. Iraq
> Total resource value: $15.9 trillion
> Oil reserves (value): 115 billion barrels ($13.6 trillion)
> Natural gas reserves (value): 111.9 trillion cu. ft. ($1.3 trillion)
> Timber reserves (value): not in top 10

Iraq’s greatest resource is its oil, of which it has 115 billion barrels of proved reserves. This accounts for nearly 9% of the world’s total. Despite being relatively easy to extract, much of these reserves remain untapped because of political differences between the central government and Kurdistan concerning ownership of the oil. Iraq also has among the greatest reserves of phosphate rock in the world, worth more than $1.1 trillion. However, these deposits are completely underdeveloped.

8. Australia
> Total resource value: $19.9 trillion
> Oil reserves (value): not in top 10
> Natural gas reserves (value): not in top 10
> Timber reserves (value): 369 million acres ($5.3 trillion)

Australia’s natural wealth comes from its vast amounts of coal, timber, coal, copper and iron ore. The country is in the top three for total reserves of seven of the resources on our list. Australia has by far the most gold in the world, at 14.3% of global supply. It also has 46% of the global uranium supply, also easily the most. In addition, the country has significant quantities of natural gas offshore the northwest coast, some of which it shares with Indonesia.

7. Brazil
> Total resource value: $21.8 trillion
> Oil reserves (value): not in top 10
> Natural gas reserves (value): not in top 10
> Timber reserves (value): 1.2 billion acres ($17.5 trillion)

Brazil’s sizable gold and uranium reserves largely contribute to its place on this list. It also owns 17% of the world’s iron ore supply, the second most of any nation. Its most valuable natural resource, however, is timber. The country owns 12.3% of the world’s timber supply, valued at $17.45 trillion. In order to maintain consistency in the international numbers we used to make our calculations, we did not include Brazil’s relatively recent discovery of vast quantities of crude oil offshore in what is usually called the presalt. The estimated crude presalt reserves could reach 44 billion barrels, which would propel Brazil’s place up the list.

6. China
> Total resource value: $23 trillion
> Oil reserves (value): not in top 10
> Natural gas reserves (value): not in top 10
> Timber reserves (value): 450 million acres ($6.5 trillion)

The value of China’s resources is heavily based on coal and rare earth minerals. The two resources, combined, provide more than 90% of the country’s total resource value. China also has significant coal deposits, which account for more than 13% of the world’s total. Recently, major shale gas deposits were also discovered in the country. Once estimates of their size become available, China’s status as a world leader in natural resources will further improve.