Basic Iron Ore Facts.
What is Iron Ore?
Iron ores are rocks from which metallic iron can be extracted. It is one of the most abundant rock elements, constituting about 5% of the Earth’s crust and is the 4th most common element in the world. It is abundant in Australia and mined mostly in Western Australia but is also common around the globe and is mined in around 50 countries. Almost 93% of Australia’s identified iron ore resources are found in Western Australia, according to the Federal Government’s Australian Mines Atlas. The quality of Australia’s iron ore is considered to be some of the best in the world.
What Iron Ore is used for
Iron ore is part of our every day lives and our modern world would look completely different without it. 98% of world iron ore is used to make steel, which accounts for over 90% of all metals used in the world. Steel is used in building for so many things, from cars, trains and ships through to the high rise buildings in our cities and the bridges that connect us. Steel is used to create pipes, cars, ships, engines, roofs, nails, nuts, bolts, tools, machinery, in building & construction, to make white goods, in manufacturing, food cans and much more.
How do you benefit from iron ore?
The mining and iron ore sector has been a major contributor to the Australian economy and the rising standard of living for all Australians over the past decade.
In 2014, the Reserve Bank of Australia released a very important piece of work that sought to answer one simple question: what if the mining boom didn’t happen? The report concluded that household incomes across the country were 13 per cent higher thanks to the boom. Real wages were also 6 per cent higher. Plus unemployment was 1.25 per cent lower than it would have been. That equates to 150,000 jobs. And this is all on top of the $117 billion in taxes and royalties paid by iron ore and minerals miners since 2006. The RBAs independent analysis underlines the economic importance of mining for all Australians and the benefits this sector brings to the whole economy.
And we can expect mining to remain a strong pillar of the Australian economy in the years ahead. Iron ore producers are now putting to work the assets and infrastructure they invested in during the boom to meet forecast demand in the future and maintain their share in a very competitive global iron ore and steel market. That’s good for Australian jobs and good for government revenues.
History of Iron Ore
Iron ore has been used by man for over 3,000 years. The first iron ore deposits in Australia were found in 1880. By early 1900s small scale mining had begun. However, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that new processes and the advent of efficient heavy rail haulage allowed for larger scale iron ore extraction in the Pilbara as world demand grew, especially from steel mills in Japan.
After the iron ore embargo was lifted in 1960, large deposits found in Western Australia commenced planning for production pending government approvals. Production began at Goldsworthy (1969), Tom Price (1966), Newman (1969), Pannawonica (1972) and Paraburdoo (1973). This mining boom resulted in new ports, over a thousand kilometres of new railway lines and infrastructure, new towns built, thousands of jobs created and an increase in the Western Australian population.
The next 30 years saw Australian mining work hard to increase efficiencies, become globally competitive and develop export markets in both Europe and Asia. Iron ore has become a vital part of Australia’s economy, generating income for governments and helping to raise living standards for all Australians. Today over 50 countries produce and compete in the iron ore market. Australia is now the second largest iron ore producer in the world and the world’s biggest exporter of seaborne iron ore.
The vital importance of the iron ore industry to Australia’s modern prosperity is widely recognised. Less appreciated perhaps is the industry’s remarkable back-story.
In Iron country: Unlocking the Pilbara, David Lee charts Australia’s modern iron age from the lifting of the iron ore export embargo in the early 1960s to the China boom of the early 21st century.
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