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Australian iron ore resource quality to support the nation for decades

Australian iron ore resource quality to support the nation for decades

A new report launched today by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) forecasts that Australia’s world-class iron ore will support growth, create jobs and sustain regional communities for many decades ahead of trading in a globally competitive market environment.

Iron Ore: When Quality Meets Opportunity  – the first in the MCA’s Best in Class: Australia’s Bulk Commodity Giants series – is an in-depth exploration of how and why Australian iron ore is well-positioned as a low-cost producer of world-class iron ore to supply Asia’s high-efficiency large steel mills.

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The report examines Australia’s rise as the world’s leading producer of iron ore, renowned for its high-quality resources right on Asia’s doorstep.

Built over sixty years, the Australian iron ore industry supplies almost 90 per cent of the world’s high grade lump ore. 

Australia has a mature, highly sophisticated, well managed and resourced iron ore industry making it the critical supplier of choice for the world’s steel makers.

In 2019-20, Australia exported $103 billion of iron ore (22 per cent of Australia’s total goods and services exports), providing a massive contribution to wages, jobs, local communities and funding for essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

China is still experiencing significant growth and new frontiers in South and East Asia will be exciting new markets. 

The report highlights the environmental benefits of using Australian lump iron ore, as lump can be charged directly into the blast furnace without needing to be processed into pellets or sinter. This saves significant costs and reduces emissions.

The report also explains how Australian iron ore producers have worked with customers to develop new ore types to enable production expansion and the capturing of the benefits of proximate geography and economic freight costs. 

New ore types included the development in the 1990s of Australia’s low alumina channel iron deposits. This enabled Australia’s alumina constrained north Asian customers to increase their imports from Australia.  

And this century, the development of new Marra Mamba and high phosphorous ore types enabled dramatically increased production including of prized good quality lump products.

The future is exciting with the report noting opportunities through developing new deposits close to existing infrastructure and increasing production while reducing costs through better process and supply chain optimisation and automation – areas in which the Pilbara is already considered the industry benchmark.

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