The Archive’s 144 files on iron ore provide information on such subjects as world supply and demand, market analyses, iron-ore economics, production statistics, iron-ore trade, ore prices, world and country reserves, captive supplies, costs of production and shipping, bulk-carrier ore transport, beneficiation, pelletizing, sintering, world pellet-plant capacity, taconite production, mining-project profiles, mining-company histories and financial reports, and iron ores from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Liberia, Mexico, Sweden, the United States, and Venezuela. This information, including iron-ore research by Thomas E. McGinty, is complemented by a number of the Archive’s books and references, such as the statistical report, Iron Ore, published annually by the American Iron Ore Association (AIOA); the study Iron Ores and Ironmaking in the World by Battelle Memorial Institute; the BHP Pocketbook of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd.; An Inventory of the Free World’s Iron Ore Deposits, an unpublished study by F.M. Chace; The Changing World Market for Iron Ore, 1950-1980 by Gerald Manners; the Cliffs Iron Ore Analyses, published annually by Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.; Metal Bulletin’s Iron Ore Databook; three studies by the IISI Committee on Raw Materials, Report on Iron Ore, Past Trends, 1950 to 1974, The World Market for Iron Ore, and The Outlook for Iron Ore, Cokeable Coal and Scrap; the Iron Ore Analyses of Malmexport AB; the United Nations’ publication, Survey of World Iron Ore Reserves; and the Proceedings of the Ninth Pacific Trade and Development Conference on Mineral Resources in the Pacific Area.
Analysis: In 2000, the world produced 1.07 billion tons of iron ore, used mainly to supply blast furnaces smelting 577 million tons of iron. The leading ore producer was China, which mined 224 million tons of mainly low-grade ore with an average iron content of about 30%, less than half the content of China’s imported ores. Much of the domestic ore must be enriched using concentrators installed at a number of mines. By contrast, the world’s second and third largest producers, Brazil and Australia , mine ores containing 65% or more iron, their 2000 outputs amounting to 209 million and 168 million tons, respectively. Next in line among the world’s top ore producers were Russia with 87 million tons, India with 73 million, and the United States with 63 million tons.
Fortunate for the world steel industry, iron-ore resources are in abundance, being located beneath 4% to 5% of the earth’s crust. They are not, however, distributed evenly, with large, rich deposits found in some countries and virtually none in others. Japan , for example, despite its 2000 ranking as the world’s second largest steel producer, relies on imports for all of its ore, while Brazil , number eight in steel, has enough rich ore reserves to supply the entire world for at least the next 25 years.
Much of the ore now used by the world’s iron and steel producers is beneficiated or upgraded to some extent, the two most common upgrading methods being sintering and pelletizing. Sinter is produced by heating fine ore mixed with coal dust or coke breeze to obtain a clinker-like substance, whereas iron-ore pellets, which usually are less than one inch in diameter, are made from concentrates of varying qualities of ore, including taconite. Both upgraded ore products make the blast-furnace burden more permeable, which contributes to furnace productivity.