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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 (Fe) is a metallic element and composes about 5% of the Earth’s crust. When pure it is a dark, silvery-gray metal. It is a very reactive element and oxidizes (rusts) very easily. 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. Iron is one of the three naturally magnetic elements; the others are cobalt and nickel. Iron is the most magnetic of the three. The mineral magnetite (Fe3O4) is a naturally occurring metallic mineral that is occasionally found in sufficient quantities to be an ore of iron. The principle ores of iron are Hematite, (70% iron) and Magnetite, (72 % iron). Taconite is a low-grade iron ore, containing up to 30% Magnetite and Hematite.



60 – 68%


2.0 – 4.0 % max


2.25 – 3.50 % max


0.05 – 0.10 % max


0.02 – 0.05 % max


6.0 – 8.0 % max


0.05 % max.


• Iron is unusual in that it is magnetic (if you dangle a piece it will turn to face north-south).

• Iron has the symbol Fe (from the Roman word Ferrum).

• Iron is a silver-grey metal.

• Iron is quite soft but when made into steel is very strong.

• Iron malleable and ductile (can be beaten and drawn into a wire).

• Iron quickly corrodes or rusts (forms a red powder called iron oxide) when exposed to air and water.• Iron has a high melting point (1535oC).


TRANSPORTATION: Steel railways/ carriages/engines, ships, car frames, engine cylinders.

CONSTRUCTION: Steel buildings, bridges (such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge), roofing, cladding, doors, fencing.

MACHINERY: Steel engines, pumps, cranes, workshop equipment (eg. cutting tools, drill bits).

WIRE PRODUCTS: Steel wire fences, ships’ cables, staples, door screens, nuts & bolts.

STORAGE: Steel food containers, storage tanks.

OIL AND GAS: Steel drill rods, casing, pipelines.

APPLIANCES EQUIPMENT: Steel refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, cutlery, hospital equipment.

HEALTH: Pure iron is needed for proper plant growth. Animals need iron for making energy and carrying blood around the body.
Foods rich in iron include red meat and liver, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables. Iron was the first element to be recognized as essential for people. A doctor in 1681 successfully used iron to treat patients who were pale, lacking in energy and suffering from anemia.
Iron chloride is used in water treatment and purification.

ELECTRONICS: Iron chloride is used to etch copper in the making of electrical printed circuits.

DECORATION: Wrought iron outdoor furniture, porch railings and other decorative items.