Iron ore are minerals and rocks from which metallic iron is extracted using various technologies. Iron ores are rich in iron oxides and usually vary in color from dark grey, deep purple, rusty red and bright yellow. Iron is usually found in various forms such as magnetite (Fe3O4), hematite (Fe2O3), goethite (FeO(OH), siderite (FeCO3) or limonite (FeO(OH).n(H2O)). The economically viable forms of iron ore usually contain about 25% and 60% of iron. Ores containing more that 60% of magnetite and hematite are known as natural ore. The ores having very high quantity of hematite are also known as direct shipping ore. Direct shipping ores are those raw materials that can be fed directly into iron-making blast furnaces. However, most of the reserves containing these ores are slowly depleting. Iron ore is used to manufacture pig steel which is further processed to manufacture steel. Thus, iron ore is one of the major raw material used to manufacture steel. Apart from oil, iron ore is expected to be more integral to the global economy than any other commodity. Metallic iron is usually not found directly in the Earth’s crust. However, it is found in rare forms of xenoliths and as iron-nickel alloys from meteorites in the deep mantle. Iron is the fourth most abundantly element available in the Earth’s crust. Most of the iron is found in silicates and in rare carbonate minerals. Iron ore usually contains host of unwanted elements that are not required in manufacturing of steel. However, the separation process of iron from other minerals requires highly energy intensive technologies.
Most of the iron ore is consumed in manufacturing of steel. Thus, growing construction, automobile and other end-user industries is expected to boost the overall demand for the iron ore market. Iron ore is used primarily in the structural engineering applications. Iron ore is also used in the maritime purposes. However, automobile industry is also one of the major consumers of iron ore as steel is majorly used in manufacturing most of automobile components. The iron ore market is highly capital intensive in nature. In addition, the presence of several stringent environmental restrictions is expected to restrain the overall growth of the market. The volatile iron ore prices are further expected to hamper the growth of the market. However, increasing applications of iron ore is expected to augment the overall growth of the iron ore market. Thus iron ore which is majorly used in manufacturing steel finds its applications in manufacturing locomotives, ships, paper clips, reinforcing rods for concrete and beams in buildings, tools and furniture among others.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the largest consumer of iron ore. The presence of large number of steel manufacturers in China is expected to boost the iron ore market. The Chinese steel industry is argued to drive the global steel market. The North America is expected to be the largest manufacturers owing to the presence of huge iron ore reserves in Canada. Europe is expected to grow as the largest manufacturers of iron ores.
Iron Ore Company of Canada, Alderon Iron Ore Corp., OCEANIC IRON ORE CORP., Atlas Iron Ltd. and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation, FeOre Ltd. among others are some of the key participants of the global iron ore market.
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