Iron Ore

Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted. The ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in color from dark grey, bright yellow, deep purple, to rusty red. The iron itself is usually found in the form of magnetite (Fe3O4, 72.4% Fe), hematite (Fe2O3, 69.9% Fe), goethite (FeO(OH), 62.9% e), limonite (FeO(OH).n(H2O)) or siderite (FeCO3, 48.2% Fe).

Ores containing very high quantities of hematite or magnetite (greater than ~60% iron) are known as "natural ore" or "direct shipping ore", meaning they can be fed directly into iron-making blast furnaces. Iron ore is the raw material used to make pig iron, which is one of the main raw materials to make steel. 98% of the mined iron ore is used to make steel. Indeed, it has been argued that iron ore is "more integral to the global economy than any other commodity, except perhaps oil".

Estimated iron ore production in million metric tons for 2014 according to U.S. Geological Survey (*The mine production estimates for China are based on crude ore, rather than usable ore, which is reported for the other countries.)

Country

Production

China

1500

Australia

660

Brazil

320

India

150

Russia

105

Ukraine

82

South Africa

78

United States

58

Iran

45

Canada

41

Sweden

26

Kazakhstan

26

Other countries

131

Total world

3220