Iron ore is considered the most famous commodity in the world due to its high demand in the steel production sector. Iron ores are minerals and rocks from which metallic iron can be reasonably extracted. They vary in color from bright yellow, dark brown, or deep purple to rusty red and are usually high in iron oxide. Also, ores have magnetite or hematite in high qualities, which are called direct supplying ore or natural ore. Simply put, ores can be extracted directly into iron-making blast boilers.
Additionally, iron is a widely used metal, with iron ore being the primary component, representing about 95% of all metal used annually. Mainly, it is used in ships, structures, machinery, and automobiles. However, mining ore is a low-margin, high-volume business because iron typically costs less than base metals. In addition, transporting the ore from the mine to the cargo ship requires massive infrastructure investments such as rail. Due to this reason, the production of iron ore is concentrated in the hands of a few significant players.
And the top manufacturing nations only play a significant role in producing and supplying this crucial ingredient to the global marketplace. However, economists and analysts predict construction growth by 2025 in Iron-ore worldwide. So now, let’s check out the list of the 10 largest nations producing iron ore.
Top Countries for Iron Ore Production in World
Australia is in the no.1 position on the list of the largest producer of iron ore in the world, with output estimating 100 MT in the year 2020, which is anywhere 37.5% of total world production. In addition, it also houses the world’s largest crude iron ore reserves, accounted by the United States Geological Survey at approximately 50 billion tonnes.
In Australia, iron ore mining is a vast industry that supplies the commodity product millions of dollars in revenue for the Australian Government yearly. Numerous largest iron ore mining companies in the world have a foothold its steps in the country, especially in the Pilbara zone of Western Australia, where a vast number of its reserves are established.
The country mined about 37.6% of the total world production. It produced 900 metric tons of iron ore. It also has about 48 billion tonnes of crude ore reserves, the largest globally. Iron ore is Australia’s largest export; its leading importers are Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam.
Brazil ranks second with 16.7% of the world’s production. This Latin American country produced approximately 400 million metric tons by 2020, slightly less than in 2019 but still ideally 17% of the global total. The Carjas Mine in the northern Brazilian state of Para is one of the largest iron ore mines in the world. On the other hand, the state of Minas Gerais followed in a close second, with an output of 191 MT.
These two states jointly estimated around 98% of the country’s iron ore production that year. The mine is operated by Vale, a Rio de Janeiro-based company, a market player in the country and, until recently, the world’s renowned iron ore miner. In addition, it has reserves of about 34 billion tonnes of crude iron ore behind Australia.
Regardless of being a leading contributor to iron ore, China is also a renowned iron ore player. The reason for this may be its consumption which is more than in any other country. China supplies its local iron ore with imports from other countries to maintain its demand in the steel industry and other related sectors. In 2020, china manufactured 340 MT of iron ore, which is reported for 14.2% of the total world production. Recently, it has anywhere 20 billion tonnes of crude oil reserves.
China is also a major commodity consumer in the world and has combined local production with more foreign imports to satisfy its vast steelmaking industry, which currently accounts for more than half of the world’s steel production. In addition, the country has reserves of about 20 BT of crude iron ore, while Sichuan, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, and Shanxi are the most resource-rich regions of the country.
Asia’s second-largest producer and the fourth-largest producer of iron ore worldwide, India, produces anywhere between 200 metric tonnes annually and accounts for 9.6 percent of the total ore produced worldwide. Domestic iron ore is exported to other countries, such as South Korea and Japan, without using iron ore in their steel industries.
The two major customers in these countries are POSCO and Japanese Steel Mills. Major iron ore miners in India include Vedanta, Hindustan Zinc, and National Mineral Development Corporation.
In 2020, India reported less than 10% of global iron ore production, calculated at 230 metric tons. The production is widely spread, even though the states of Karnataka, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand are leading for their productivity.
Russia is on the 5th spot in the list of the largest producing nation in the world, with a production of approx 90 million metric tonnes every year. Russia is considered a major producer of iron in Europe. The country is projected to increase its iron ore production because of its vast iron ore reserves, which have an estimated 25 billion metric tons.
In 2020, Russia mined an estimated 95 million tons. Significant resource reserves are located in the Kursk magnetic anomaly in the west of the country and the vicinity of the Ural Mountains, especially in the regions of Siberia and Tula. In addition, it has the third largest iron ore reserves in the world, accounting for 25 billion tonnes, which is projected to increase in the coming years. Russia is one of the largest exports of iron, its important markets being Ukraine, China, Germany, Turkey, and Slovakia.
Spotting at No. 6, Ukraine produced 81 million tonnes of usable iron ore in 2021, up from 78.8 million tonnes in 2020. The steel and iron ore industry account for 10% of the country’s GDP. However, iron ore production was lower than in 2012 and 2013, when the country produced 82 million tonnes of ore annually. In 2020, the country exported about 46.3 million tonnes of iron ore and concentrated. However, the Russian invasion severely affected Ukraine’s iron ore exports. Even European steelmakers depended on Ukraine for raw materials such as iron ore and metallurgical coal.
Canada is the 7th largest iron-producing nation, with 41 million MT of iron content and 68 Million tonnes of usable iron in the year 2021, up from 36.1 million MT and 60.1 million MT in 2020, respectively. In Canada, Champion Iron is the only company producing iron ore. Operated and Owns the Bloom Lake Complex, it supplies iron ore concentrate from the ships. It is estimated to enhance capacity from 7.4 MT yearly to 15 MT per year of 66.2% iron ore concentrate. In 2019, the country produced iron ore with an output of about 54 million tonnes, becoming the 8th largest iron ore-producing country.
Kazakhstan is in the 8th position when it comes to iron ore production in the world. In 2021, usable iron ore production rose slightly to 64 metric tons from 62.9 million tons in the prior year. On the other hand, the iron content has increased from 12.7 MT to 13 MT. It has several iron ore mines in operation, of which 4 out of 5 are owned by Eurasian Resources Group, and one is authorized by ArcelorMittal. SMPA, an association based in northern Kazakhstan, was the leading exporter of iron ore to steelworkers and Magnitogorsk Iron before the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
9. South Africa
The usable iron ore production in South Africa enhanced from 55.6 million tonnes to 61 million tonnes in the year 2021. As a result, South Africa’s iron ore output increased from 24.4 million to 39 million tonnes. The country’s largest ore producer, Kumba Iron Ore, has three main iron ore production investments in the country, including its Sishen Flagship Mine, which estimates for a vast majority of Kumba’s total iron ore output.
Iran is in the 10th position as the leading iron-producing country in the world. In 2021, Iran produced 33 MT of iron content and 50 MT of usable iron ore, up slightly from 49.5 MT and 32.5 MT. Gol-e-Gohar in Kerman province is the country’s most vital iron ore mine. Iran’s government is targeting to produce 55 MT of steel annually from 2025 to 2026.
In 2020, overall worldwide production of iron ore stood at around 2.4 billion tonnes compared to the previous year, as per data collected from the United States Geological Survey.