Iron Ore


Western Australia is the largest iron ore supplier in the world, with numerous iron ore mines in operation.

Economic Contribution

More than $4.4 billion in iron ore royalties was provided to the WA Government in 2018.

Iron Ore

Western Australia has accounted for 29 per cent of the world’s iron ore reserves in 2017. From Port Hedland and throughout the Pilbara, Western Australia is also the largest iron ore supplier in the world, accounting for 39 per cent in 2018 .

About 98 per cent of world iron ore production is used to make iron in the form of steel. Pure iron is quite soft. Adding carbon to iron produces steel, which is significantly harder and extremely versatile.

Western Australia has an estimated 45,875 million tonnes of economic demonstrated resources in 2017-18, which could sustain current production levels for 60 years. The major iron ore producers in Western Australia include BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group, CITIC Pacific Mining and Hancock Prospecting.

Iron Ore Mining In WA

Australia’s iron ore sales increased 8.5 per cent, reaching a record 826 million tonnes in 2017–18. Sales have increased steadily, with annual volumes growing 161 per cent over the past ten years alone. China is the State’s largest iron ore export market, accounting for $50 billion (82 per cent) of exports in 2017-18. Japan and South Korea were the next two largest exports markets, accounting for $5 billion (9 per cent) and $4 billion (6 per cent) respectively.

In 2017-18, iron ore volumes increased mostly due to production growth by Rio Tinto’s ramp up of the Silvergrass project, as well as the continued ramp up of projects by Roy Hill and CITIC Pacific.

Iron is the world’s most commonly used metal, with iron ore a key ingredient in steel making. To produce 1,000 kilograms of crude steel, about 1,400 kilograms of iron ore is required. Iron can be alloyed with a variety of elements to produce stronger and harder products used by the construction and manufacturing industries. This includes buildings, motor vehicles, ships, trucks, pipelines, trains and railway tracks.

Employing more than 43,000 employees (full-time equivalent) in 2018, the iron ore sector is the State’s largest mineral employer. With a multitude of iron ore mines in WA, the sector is a large part of the Western Australian economy, accounting for 17 per cent of gross state product and 57 per cent of mining industry value added in 2017-18. The value of iron ore accounted for 47 per cent of Western Australia’s merchandise exports and 54 per cent of Western Australia’s minerals and petroleum sales. Iron ore accounted for 77 per cent of Western Australia’s royalties in 2017-18 and 18.

*Sources: DMIRS, JTSI.

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