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Iron Ore

What Is Iron Ore?

Geology.com provides an easily understood explanation of iron ore:

“Earth's most important iron ore deposits are found in sedimentary rocks. They formed from chemical reactions that combined iron and oxygen in marine and fresh waters. The two most important minerals in these deposits are iron oxides: hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4). These iron ores have been mined to produce almost every iron and steel object that we use today - from paper clips to automobiles to the steel beams in skyscrapers.”

Iron is economically extracted from the iron ore rocks and minerals which contain between 25% and 60% iron. The iron ore comes in a variety of colours; pure iron ore is a dark-silvery gray metal, other colours are rusty red, purple and bright yellow.

What Is Iron Ore Used For?

Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and is the core component of the most commonly used metal – steel. The iron ore is usually smelted to produce a metallic iron or pig iron. Pure iron metal is strongly magnetic and this is used to remove impurities in coal washing. As stated in the opening paragraph, steel is used to create everything from paper clips to steel beams in skyscrapers, some other items made of steel are:
  • Furniture
  • Tools
  • Automobiles
  • Bicycles
  • Trains
  • Ships
  • Machinery
  • Statues /sculptures
Powdered iron is used as a catalyst, in magnets and metallurgy products. Iron blue is used for dyes and pigmentation in inks, paint, cosmetics, paper, plastics and laundry blue. Black iron oxide is used as a pigment in polishing compounds and magnetic inks. Radioactive iron is used in medicine. (Information from http://www.mineralszone.com/minerals/iron-ore.html)

Interesting Fact: Magnetite ore deposits constitute 24% of Australia’s economic iron ore resources.

Where Is Iron Ore Produced?

According to Wikipedia, China is the largest consumer of iron ore and is the world’s largest steel producing country. World production averages two billion metric tons of raw iron ore annually and consumption grows by 10% annually.
On the right is a table of the top producers of iron ore:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_ore

Conclusion

Iron ore is one of the most important metals used in developed and developing countries with its uses ranging across the board from building materials to magnets to medicine.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and the production processes visit our Rocks, Metals and Gems page or feel free to Contact Us.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

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