What is iron ore

Iron / iron ore



Iron, Latin: "ferrum", chemical symbol "Fe", is the 26th element of the Periodic Table of the Elements. It is the fourth most abundant element on earth after oxygen, silicon and aluminum. Pure iron is silvery white and relatively soft.

It can be found in numerous compounds and makes up 40% of the structure of the earth. The main part is accounted for by the earth's core; the crust contains only 5%.


In most minerals and rocks one finds at least traces of iron compounds, to which they owe their red, brown, dark green to black colors. Iron is also present in spring and sea water. In organisms it provides an important component for life, e.g. in the leaf green of plants or in the hemoglobin of human blood.


Minerals that contain iron in high concentrations are called iron ores. Mineralogically, ore is defined as a metal-containing mineral. The (raw) iron can be melted out of the iron ore at high temperatures. The melting point is 1530 ° C, the boiling point is 3250 ° C.


The extraction of iron from iron ores is documented for the first time around 1000 BC. among the Egyptians. On the basis of grave finds, even earlier iron processing using nickel-rich meteoritic iron can be proven.

The Iron Age began in Europe around 800 BC. (Hallstatt period).


Iron ore


Magnetite Fe3O4 (magnetic iron ore)


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  • High quality, strongly magnetic iron ore


  • Main occurrences: Scandinavia, Urals, South Africa, USA, Lorraine, Lahn-Dill area


Hematite Fe3O2



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  • Iron content approx. 30 to approx. 70%


  • Main occurrences: Sweden, Brazil, Urals, USA, Elba, Lahn-Dill area
  • Varieties: Specularit (iron gloss), iron rose,
  • Iron mica, red iron ore: red glass head, blood stone, red chalk


Limonite Fe2 O3 H2O (brown iron ore)


  • Mixture of different minerals, mainly goethite and lepidocrocite
  • Easy smeltability
  • Iron content approx. 20 to 63%


  • Main deposits: Luxembourg, Lorraine (Minette), Salzgitter, Lahn-Dill area
  • Varieties: brown iron ore, brown glass head, brown ironoolite, floor iron, lawn iron ore, sea ore, ocher


Siderite FeC03 (iron spar, spate iron stone)


  • Occurrence: Carinthia, Styria, Siegerland (mining until 1995)


The minability of these iron ores begins with an iron content of approx. 30% with appropriately good storage conditions and sufficient thickness.


Goethite FeOOH (needle iron ore)


Lepidocrocite FeOOH (ruby mica)


Chamosite (Fe, Mg, Al) 6 [(OH) 2 | (Si, Al) 2O10]


  • Occurrence: Switzerland, Bohemia, France