In a prepared speech at Anglo American's AGM held in London on Wednesday, CEO Cynthia Carroll put it this way: In terms of liquidity, you will also have seen that just two weeks ago we launched a highly successful $2bn bond, for which there was extremely strong demand from investors in both North America and Europe.Anglo American is debt soaked, as is rival big miner Rio Tinto; by contrast, BHP Billiton, the world's biggest diversified resources group, is light on debt, and known to be generating good profits across most of its assets base. The difference in quality between the three rival groups has become significantly apparent over the past few weeks, as each priced and placed corporate bonds, for a combined $8.8bn, plus an additional €2.3bn placed by BHP Billiton outside the dollar market.In the past few months, mining companies have raised, or are raising, $56bn, completely outside any banking system, using various techniques including rights issues and direct placements. The single biggest package - yet to be completed - involves Rio Tinto wanting to sell various equity stakes in some of its most prized assets to smaller rival Chinalco for $12.3bn; Rio Tinto also wants to sell convertibles worth $7.2bn, also to Chinalco.The three sets of corporate bonds, however, stand alone. BHP Billiton was first to tap the corporate bond market, on 19 March, followed by Rio Tinto, and then Anglo American. The numbers show, however, that Anglo American was squeezed into pricing its five year corporate bonds with a coupon of 9.375%, representing a 71% premium above the 5.5% pricing on five year bonds sold by BHP Billiton. The premium paid by Anglo American, on a similar basis, for ten year bonds, computes at 41%. The pricing by Rio Tinto for both terms is far closer to Anglo American's numbers than BHP Billiton's.RECENT CORPORATE BONDS

Million

Coupon

Due

BHP Billiton

Bonds

$1,500

5.500%

2014

Rio Tinto

Bonds

$2,000

8.950%

2014

Anglo American

Bonds

$1,250

9.375%

2014

BHP Billiton

Bonds

$1,750

6.500%

2019

Rio Tinto

Bonds

$1,500

9.000%

2019

Anglo American

Bonds

$750

9.375%

2019

BHP Billiton

Bonds

€1,250

4.750%

2012

BHP Billiton

Bonds

€1,000

6.375%

2016

At the end of 2008, Anglo American's net debt (including cash) computed at $11.00bn; at Rio Tinto, $38.17bn, and at BHP Billiton, just $4.20bn. Rio Tinto has in 2009 sold some fine assets, separately to the proposed Chinalco deal: Jacobs Ranch for $761m; potash assets for $850m, and certain iron ore assets for $750m.Anglo American raised $434m and $1.3bn selling the final two legacy tranches of stock it held in AngloGold Ashanti. On Wednesday Carroll stated that Anglo American had recently secured a $1bn loan from the Brazilian development bank, BNDES, for the Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil. The numbers from the corporate bonds indicate that Anglo American was probably restricted as to the quantum it could raise.HEAVYWEIGHT MINING STOCKS

Stock

From

From

Value

price

high*

low*

$bn

BHP Billiton

₤14.35

-34.9%

96.2%

128.49

Vale

$16.14

-63.4%

83.4%

79.09

Shenhua

CNY 25.42

-52.2%

58.1%

61.35

Rio Tinto

₤24.40

-66.0%

145.2%

52.63

Anglo American

₤14.44

-60.8%

59.4%

28.97

Xstrata

₤6.04

-75.9%

109.2%

26.46

PotashCorp

CAD 108.50

-55.9%

76.7%

26.34

Barrick

$29.13

-44.5%

68.7%

25.43

Anglo Platinum

R505.26

-65.9%

44.4%

22.82

Goldcorp

$30.08

-42.9%

117.3%

21.95

Newmont

$41.85

-22.2%

97.7%

20.03

Mosaic

$44.51

-72.7%

102.9%

19.78

NMDC

INR 234.55

-55.2%

103.6%

18.68

Freeport-McMoRan

$44.26

-65.2%

181.9%

18.22

Southern Copper

$21.18

-49.5%

132.2%

18.08

Zijin

CNY 10.68

-51.5%

184.0%

16.47

Chinalco

CNY 11.34

-53.5%

92.2%

15.90

Norilsk

$7.99

-74.8%

127.6%

15.23

China Coal

CNY 11.22

-48.7%

87.0%

15.03

CSN

$17.52

-66.6%

122.6%

13.90

* 12 month