Top 10: Iron Ore Mines Based on Proven and Probable Reserves

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One of most commonly mined minerals in the world is iron ore. The three biggest pr...

One of most commonly mined minerals in the world is iron ore. The three biggest producers of the precious metal include Vale, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto with the vast majority of mines in Brazil, Australia and Africa.

Although the price for the metal has fallen in recent years, the demand is never ending. We examine the top 10 iron ore mine in the world based on proven and probable reserves. 

10.) Karara (Australia)

Located in Western Australia, the Karara mine is the tenth biggest iron ore mine in the world. Although the site has only been operational since 2013, the mine is expected to produce more than 30 million tons per year for over 30 years. The project is a joint venture with Karara Mining Limited, Gindalbie Metals, Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation.

9.) Minas-Rio (Brazil)

Making our list at number nine of the top iron ore mines is the Minas-Rio project in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The $8 billion complex, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, will produce approximately 27 million tons of iron ore annually over a 28 year mine life. Once completed, the site will include open-pit mines, a beneficiation plant, a 535km slurry pipeline, filtering plant and an export terminal.

8.) Chichester Hub (Australia)

Owned and operated by the world’s fourth biggest iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), the Chichester Hub mine in Western Australia contains 1.51 billion tons of proven and probable iron ore reserves. As the eighth largest iron ore mine, the site is comprised of two open-pit iron ore mines – Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek -- producing 90 million tons per annum.

7.) Hamersley Basin (Australia)

Located north of Perth in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the Hamersley mine is the seventh largest iron ore mine in the world. Owned and operated by Rio Tinto, the mine contains an estimated 1.72 billion tons of proven and probable iron ore reserves. The site covers the Brockman, Marra Mamba and Pisoliten iron ore deposits in the Australian region.

6.) Simandou (Africa)

The controversial Simandou mine in Guinea, Africa is the world’s sixth largest iron ore mine with an estimated 1.84 billion tons of iron ore. Although still under construction, Rio Tinto in partnership with Aluminum Corporation of China (CHALCO) and the International Finance Corporation is developing the site to consist of open pit mines, a railway and a port. Once developed, the site is expected to produce 95 million tons per annum.

5.) Zanaga (Republic of Congo)

Situated in Southern Congo, the Zanaga iron ore mine is estimated to contain 2.5 billion tons of the precious metal. The project, which is being developed by Glencore and the Zanaga Iron Ore Company, is being constructed in two phases. Once completed, the first phase will produce 14 million tons of iron ore per year and the second stage will expand the annual production capacity to 30 million tons. The project is scheduled to finish its feasibility study by the second quarter of 2014.

4.) Vargem Grande (Brazil)

The Vargem Grande mine is the fourth largest iron ore mine in the world. Located in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the mine is estimated to contain 2.53 billion tons of proven and probable iron ore reserves. Operated by Vale, the site is comprised of three open-pit mine: Tamandua, Capitao do Mato, and Aboboras. In 2012, the mine produced 22.6 million tons of iron ore.

3.) Minas Itabiritos (Brazil)

One of the many iron ore mines in Brazil, the Minas Itabiritos makes our list at number three with a proven and probable iron ore reserve of 2.78 billion tons. The mine, which is also operated by Brazil-based Vale, consists of four mines: Segredo, Joao Pereira, Sapecado, and Galinheiro. During 2012 the mine produced 31.8 million tons of iron ore.

2.) Samarco Alegria (Brazil)

With an estimated 2.97 billion tons of proven and probable iron ore, the Samarco Alegria mine in Brazil is the second largest iron ore mine in the world. The open pit mining operation, which is a joint venture with BHP Billiton and Vale, consists of two active pits – Algeria South and Alegria North – and has been in operation since 2000. Iron ore production of the mine reached 21.8 million tons in 2012 and the mine life is expected to reach 2053.

1.) Carajas (Brazil)

The title for biggest iron ore mine in the world belongs to the Vale-owned Carajas mine with an estimated 7.27 billion ton. The site, which is comprised of an open pit operation in the Carajas District of northern Brazil, is currently undergoing a $19.6 billion expansion to develop an additional mine on site, helping extend the mine until 2065. Once fully operational, the new mine is expected to reach a production capacity of 90 million tons per year.

 

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