Iron ore is the most important raw material for steel production. Its resources are found mainly in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Russia and the United States. Australia, China, Brazil and India alone, account for around 80 percent of the world total output.
According to statistics from the Metallurgical Mines’Association of China, global iron ore consumption in 2001 was over 1 billion tons. In 2010, it nearly doubled to more than 1.8 billion tons.
China contributed to 90 percent of the increase. The country has become the world’s largest iron ore consumer, and the world’s second-largest producer. But China’s iron ore resources are scattered, of low grade and with a high cost of extraction. It relies highly on imports from other countries.
Last year, it reported 440 million tonnes in output, 740 million tonnes in imports and 1.05 billion tonnes in consumption. Most of the imports are from Brazil’s Vale, Australia’s Rio Tinto, BHP and FMG.