The world's biggest mining company, BHP Billiton
Beyond that, according to Friday's Wall Street Journal, BHP peer Rio Tinto
It appears that the improvement in commodity prices since the first quarter of this year has been led by a recovery in China. At the same time, there have been some lesser improvements in iron ore demand in other parts of the globe. The timing of the improvement is fortuitous in that BHP and its peers are in the process of beginning their yearly round of iron ore price contract talks with major steelmakers.
Two years ago, ore prices rose dramatically in concert with skyrocketing commodities prices. Last year, however, with commodities prices heading south, ore prices similarly slid. It seems this year's betting should again be on price escalations.
But iron ore isn't the only mining product where the light is brightening. Copper, for instance, has seen its prices more than double this year -- much to the delight of shareholders in producers like Freeport-McMoRan
And there are those who believe that demand for aluminum will continue to expand in Asia next year. Barclays Capital is predicting the highest rise in aluminum prices in the past decade-and-a-half. No wonder shares of Alcoa
What's the best way to play this improving mining picture? My belief continues to be that BHP, with its robust balance sheet and sizable energy component, should be attractive to Fools with a bent for natural resources. Indeed, it also doesn't tax one's imagination to assume that the company could benefit from a major acquisition in the not-too-distant future.