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), hematite (Fe2O3), goethite (FeO(OH)), limonite (FeO(OH).n(H2O)) or siderite (FeCO3). Ores carrying 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. Most reserves of such ore have now been depleted. 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”.
Approximately 98% of iron ore is used in the manufacture of steel. Steel is used primarily in structural engineering applications, maritime purposes, automobiles and general industrial applications like machine.
Iron-rich rocks are common worldwide, but commercial mining of iron ore by a few countries, namely China, Australia, Brazil and India dominates with significant production in Russia, Ukraine and South Africa. The main limitation of the economy for iron ore is not necessarily the quality or size of the deposits, but the position of the iron ore in terms of market, the cost of rail infrastructure to bring it to market and require the cost of energy to do so as it is a high volume low margins. Read More