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United States’ iron ore resources mining and production

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United States’ iron ore resources mining and production

May 13, 2023 nflg 0 Comments

Domestic production of iron ore in 2000 increased by 9%, reflecting an increase in steel production with the attendant increase in pig iron production. Similarly, world iron ore output rose reflecting higher levels of steel and pig iron production. There were major acquisitions in the iron ore industry. Iron ore prices increased.

Iron ore is essential to the economy and national security of the United States. As the basic raw material from which iron and steel are made, its supply is critical to any industrial country. Scrap is used as a supplement in steelmaking but is limited as a major feed material because the supply of high quality scrap is limited. However, alternatives, such as direct reduced iron (DRI), were available, and their use is growing. In 2000, the steel industry accounted for more than 98.5% of iron ore consumption.

Iron ore is a mineral substance which, when heated in the presence of a reluctant, will yield metallic iron. It almost always consists of iron oxides, the primary forms of which are magnetite (Fe3O4) and hematite (Fe2O3). Taconite, the principal iron ore mined in the United States, has a low (20% to 30%) Fe content and is found in hard, fine-grained, banded iron formations.
Iron Ore Production
Following a year marked by reduced demand for iron ore, U.S. iron ore production in 2000 reached its highest level since 1981, 63.0 million metric tons (Mt).

The nine taconite mining operations in Michigan and Minnesota accounted for virtually all domestic iron ore production. Seven of these operations were on the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota: EVTAC Mining LLC, Hibbing Taconite Co., Inland Steel Mining Co., LTV Steel Mining Co., National Steel Pellet Co., Northshore Mining Co., and the US Steel Group of USX Corp. (Minntac).

The two taconite operations on the Marquette Iron Range in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were the Empire and the Tilden Mines. U.S. production data for iron ore are developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by means of the annual “Iron Ore” survey, which provided 100% of total production shown in tables 1 through 4. This information is supplemented by employment data, mine inspection reports, and information from consumers. The American Iron Ore Association (AIOA) provided data on ore shipments from loading docks on the upper Great Lakes, as well as receipts at transfer docks and furnace yards nationwide. The dock and steel plant data were compiled jointly by AIOA and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Iron ore was produced by 13 companies. One other company did not produce ore, but shipped it from stockpiles. The nine taconite producers in Michigan and Minnesota accounted for 99% of domestic production. The producing companies operated 13 mining operations, 10 iron ore concentration plants, and 10 pelletizing plants.

Of the two iron ore producers that did not produce pellets, one produced iron ore as a byproduct of gold mining, and the others produced direct-shipping ore, which requires minimal processing. Of the 13 mining operations, 12 were open pit and 1 was underground. Virtually all ore was concentrated before shipment, and 99% was pelletized. In 2000, combined United States and Canadian production represented 9% of the world output of usable ore in terms of metal content. Trends in world mine production since 1996 are shown on a country basis in table 17.

Domestic iron ore supply (production minus exports) satisfied 75% of domestic demand in 2000, compared with an average of 70% from 1990 through 2000. Domestic iron ore production, at 63 Mt, increased by 9% from that of 1999. Productivity in the Lake Superior District, in terms of thousands of tons of usable ore produced per worker in 2000, was 9.3, an 8% increase from that of 1999. Low-grade ores of the taconite type mined in Michigan and Minnesota accounted for 99% of total usable ore production. U.S. production of pellets totaled 62.4 Mt. The average Fe content of usable ore produced was 62.9%. Fluxed pellets’ share of total pellet production was 60% in 2000.

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