Brazil's mining giant Vale announced industry record net profits of $17.3 billion last year, more than tripling 2009's figures.
Last week the world's top miner BHP Billiton posted half-year net profits of $10.52 billion, up 72%.
Both sector giants are benefiting from emerging markets snapping up raw materials and the West edging out of its economic slump.
"We are living through our best days," Vale's chief executive Roger Agnelli said in the company statement.
"However, given the size and quality of our pipeline of growth projects amid a scenario of sustained global demand growth for our products, I strongly believe that even better days are ahead of us," he added.
Vale's 2010 results were 30% higher than its former record results registered in 2008.
The only minor hiccup was that its fourth-quarter profits of $5.9 billion ducked fractionally under the third quarter results.
The bottom line for shareholders was a record dividend distribution worth $3 billion, or up to 57 cents per share.
Analysts, though, voiced some caution about Vale's results.
"Looking at the steel market, like for other primary resources in general, we can expect a drop in prices," given they rose dizzyingly last year and have reached what should be a ceiling, Andre Perfeito, an economist for the Gradual Investments consulting firm, told AFP.
He explained that investors in 2010 had piled into commodities as a way of "buying economic growth without necessarily running the risk in the stock markets."
Another consulting outfit, Brascan Corretora, also said it believed iron ore prices had gone as far as they could, "given there is no significant increase in short-term supply, and the big miners are already operating at full capacity."
Last year, Vale output 255 million tons of iron, or an increase of 11% over the previous year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011