The price of the base metal reached a record of more than US$220 per ton in May 2021 and then fell to reach US$84.50 in November, although there has been a drastic increase over the years. Analysts identified falling Chinese demand, as well as an increase in supply levels, as reasons for the drop in 2021.
While iron ore prices rose again to US$138 in mid-2022, due to supply problems in Australia and Brazil, as well as the war in Ukraine and exports from India. There are still concerns about slowed global growth affecting demand and limiting metal production.
Iron is one of the main commodities in the world but there are other nations that produce this metal on a large scale. Discover the countries that produce the most iron, according to the US Geological Survey.
Countries that produce the most iron
- Usable ore: 900 million metric tons (MT); iron content: 560 million tons.
Among the countries that produce the most iron, Australia occupies the top of the list. The Pilbara region is the most notable iron ore jurisdiction in the country, and perhaps the world.
- Usable ore: 380 million tons; iron content: 240 million tons.
The second largest, with total production of 380 million tons. The main iron states in the country are Pará and Minas Gerais, which together form 98% of annual iron production. Pará is home to the largest iron mine in the country, the Carajás mine.
- Usable ore: 360 million tons; iron content: 220 million tons.
China, in addition to being one of the countries that produces the most iron, is the largest consumer. As the world’s largest producer of stainless steel, its domestic supplies are not sufficient to meet demand. The country imports more than 70% of global seaborne iron ore.
- Usable ore: 240 million tons; iron content: 150 million tons.
Usable iron ore production grew between 2020 and 2021, reaching 240 million tons.
- Usable ore: 100 million tons; iron content: 71 million tons.
One of the countries that produces the most iron, Russia ranks fifth on the list. Its exports, however, are uncertain due to the series of sanctions imposed on the country following its aggressive invasion of Ukraine. Today, these two countries account for 36% of global exports of iron or non-alloy steel. The European Union has restricted the import of Russian iron ore.
- Usable ore: 81 million tons; iron content: 51 million tons.
In sixth place comes Ukraine, where the iron and steel industry accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP. Russia’s invasion, however, had a significant impact on Ukrainian exports, on which the European Union’s steel industry depends.
- Usable ore: 68 million tons; iron content: 41 million tons.
In seventh place comes Canada, whose production totaled 68 million tonnes of usable iron ore and 41 million tonnes of iron content in 2021, up from 60.1 million tonnes and 36.1 million tonnes in 2020.
- Usable ore: 64 million tons; iron content: 13 million tons.
Kazakhstan is also one of the countries that produces the most iron, with several mines in operation, ranking eighth on the list.
9. South Africa
- Usable ore: 61 million tons; iron content: 39 million tons.
South Africa’s usable iron ore production increased from 55.6 million tonnes to 61 million tonnes in 2021. The country’s iron ore content also jumped from 24.4 million tonnes to 39 million tonnes.
- Usable ore: 50 million tons; iron content: 33 million tons.
The most important iron mines in the country include Gol-e-Gohar, in the province of Quermã. The Iranian government has a target of producing 55 million tonnes of steel per year by 2026. To achieve this target, the country’s iron ore industry will need to produce 160 million tonnes of iron ore.
To better meet the requirements of domestic steel producers, Iran began charging a 25% tariff on iron ore exports in September 2019.