Iron ore is a mineral substance which, when heated in the presence of a reductant, will yield metallic iron (Fe). It almost always consists of iron oxides, the primary forms of which are magnetite (Fe3O4) and hematite (Fe2O3).
Iron ore is the source of primary iron for the world's iron and steel industries. It is therefore essential for the production of steel, which in turn is essential to maintain a strong industrial base. Almost all (98%) iron ore is used in steelmaking. Iron ore is mined in about 50 countries. The seven largest of these producing countries account for about three-quarters of total world production. Australia and Brazil together dominate the world's iron ore exports, each having about one-third of total exports.