China, the largest producer, consumer and importer of iron ore, produced 1.3 billion tonne (bt) of iron ore in 2012, accounting for about 44% of the world’s output. The country’s crude ore reserves as of 2013 stood at 23bt containing 7.3bt of iron, the fourth largest in the world. China’s run-of-mine iron ore output is, however, of low quality, containing about 22% iron.
Over half of the nation’s domestic iron ore production comes from mines located in Hebei and Liaoning provinces while Beijing, Shanxi province and Inner Mongolia are the other iron ore producing regions. Ansteel Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anshan Iron and Steel Group (Ansteel Group), is the biggest iron ore producer in the country.
Australia produced 519 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore in 2012 accounting for about 18% of global iron ore output. The country’s estimated iron ore reserves of 35bt, containing 17bt of iron, makes it the world’s richest iron ore reserves holder.
Iron ore mining in Australia is mostly concentrated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia which accounts for over 95% of Australia’s iron ore output and hosts three of the eleven biggest iron ore mining operations in the world. Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) and Atlas Iron are the leading iron ore producers in the country.
Brazil produced 400Mt of iron ore in 2012 accounting for about 13% of the world’s total, while its iron ore reserves estimated at 31bt containing 16bt of iron, are the world’s second biggest. The country’s iron ore deposits are mostly concentrated in the states of Para and Minas Gerais.
Brazil hosts the world’s top four biggest iron ore mines including the world biggest Carajas iron ore mine, which is wholly owned and operated by Vale, the world’s biggest iron ore producing company. The world’s second biggest iron ore mining operation Samarco Alegria located in the state of Minas Gerais is owned and operated by a 50-50 joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton. Brazil also hosts Anglo American’s wholly-owned Minas-Rio iron ore mine which is the world’s ninth biggest by reserves.
India produced 144Mt of iron ore in 2012 contributing about 5% of global iron ore production. The country’s iron ore reserves are estimated at 8.1bt containing 5.2bt iron.
Six Indian states, including Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Goa, account for more than 95% of the country’s total iron ore reserves. India’s biggest iron ore producing state is Orissa, followed by Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. State-controlled National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is the biggest iron ore producing company in India.
Russia produced 104Mt of iron ore in 2012 accounting for 4% of the world’s output. The country’s iron ore reserves, estimated at 25bt containing 14bt iron, make it the world’s third biggest after Australia and Brazil.
Central Russia accounts for over half of the country’s run-of mine iron ore output while the remaining production comes from the Urals and Siberia. Metalloinvest, Russia’s biggest iron ore producing company, accounted for 37% of iron ore concentrate and 57% of iron ore pellets production in the country in 2013. It runs the country’s two biggest iron ore extraction and processing operations, namely Lebedinsky and Mikhailovsky. Severstal’s Karelsky Okatysh is the other major iron ore extraction and processing operation producing about 20% of Russian iron ore pellets.
Ukraine produced 82Mt of iron ore in 2012 accounting for about 3% of the global iron ore output, while its iron ore reserves are estimated at 6.5bt containing 2.3bt iron.
Kryvyi Rih, Kerch, Kremenchuk and Bilozerka are the four major iron ore regions in the country, while Metinvest and Ferrexpo are the top two iron ore producing companies. The Poltava mine, operated by Ferrexpo, in the Kremenchuk region is Ukraine’s biggest iron ore mine extracting 30Mt of iron ore a year.
South Africa, the biggest iron ore producer in Africa, produced 63Mt of iron ore in 2012 comprising more than 2% of global iron ore production. The country’s estimated crude iron ore reserves stand at 1bt with 650Mt of iron content.
Kumba Iron Ore, majorly owned by Anglo American with 69.7% shareholding, is the biggest iron ore producing company in South Africa. Kumba operates three mines in South Africa, including the country’s biggest iron ore mine, the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape Province. Sishen produced 33.7Mt of iron ore in 2012 and is estimated to contain 918Mt of iron ore reserves.
The US produced 54Mt of iron ore from 11 active iron ore mines in 2012 contributing 2% to the world’s total iron ore production. The country is estimated to hold 6.9bt of crude iron ore reserve containing 2.1bt of iron.
Michigan and Minnesota account for about 99% of the country’s iron ore output. Cliffs Natural Resources which operates five iron ore mines namely, Empire, Tilden, Hibbing Taconite, Northshore, United Taconite, is the country’s leading iron ore producer representing 57% of the country’s pellet production capacity.
Kazakhstan produced 52.6Mt of iron ore in 2012, accounting for 2% of global iron ore output and contains iron ore reserves of approximately 2.5bt containing 900Mt iron. The Astana and Karagandy provinces hold majority of Kazakhstan’s iron ore reserves.
Sokolov-Sarbai Mining Production Association (SSGPO), a subsidiary of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), is the biggest iron ore producer accounting for about 80% of Kazakhstan’s iron ore output. Sokolovsky, Sarbaisky, Kacharsky and Korzhinkolskiy are among the major iron ore mining operations of SSGPO.
Iran produced 48mt of iron ore in 2012 comprising close to 2% of global iron ore output, while its crude iron ore reserves are estimated at 2.5bt with 1.4bt of iron content.
The two biggest iron ore mines in Iran are the Chadormalu iron ore mine in Central Iran and the Gol Gohar iron ore mine in Kerman Province in southeastern Iran, which together account for about 80% of the country’s total iron ore output.