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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

Klinger, F. L.
Iron ore,   pp. 611-639 ff. PDF (3.2 MB)


Page 611

  611Iron Ore 
By F. L Klinger1 
 The relatively low demand for iron ore that developed during 1971 carried
over into the first half of 1972. With large inventories of ore at mines
and consuming plants, mine production or shipments were reduced in many of
the principal iron ore producing and exporting countries. There was a strong
increase in demand in the latter part of the year, but the consequent rise
in production and shipments was not quite enough to push world production
or trade above the levels of 1971. Consumption of iron ore, however, increased
about 9% in the United States, 6% in the European Economic Community (EEC),
and also increased in Japan and the Soviet Union in 1972. 
 Production and exports of iron ore declined substantially in the United
States, Canada, Chile, Venezuela, and Angola, while small to moderate increases
in production or exports were reported from Australia, Brazil, lisdia, Liberia,
Mauritania, Peru, and the U.S.S.R., compared with those in 1971. Imports
of iron ore by the United States and Japan declined by 3 to 4 miflion tons
but increased slightly in the EEC and probably increased to some extent in
East European countries which receive most of their ore supplies from the
U.S.S.R. Canadian production and exports were hampered by strikes at some
major mines and ports during the summer, while cutbacks in imports of ore
by Japan in 1972 were further affected by a Japanese shipping strike which
lasted from April to July. 
 Australia continued to be the world's leading exporter of iron ore in 1972,
as well as the third largest producer after the US.S.R. and the United States.
Japan, which imported more than 100 million tons of ore for the third consecutive
year, semained the world's largest importer, followed by West Germany and
the United States. 
 World shipments of iron ore pellets were 
estimated at 125 million tons in 1972, equivalent to about 95% of estimaled
world production capacity at the beginning of the year. The United States
accounted for 43% of the total; Canada, for 18%; and 18 other countries for
the remainder. World production capacity for pellets increased to an estimated
146 million tons annually by yearend, and 16 million tons of additional capacity
was anticipated during 1973. 
 World output of prereduced iron ore appeared to be below the capacity of
existing plants, partly due to technical problems. The Falconbridge Nickel
Mines Ltd. plant at Sudbury, Ontario, was to close early in 1973, but a new
plant was completed at Houston, Tex., in 1972 and another was scheduled for
completion at Con trecoeur, Quebec in 1973. 
 Iron ore prices were relatively stable in 1972, but devaluation of the dollar
and realignment of foreign currencies in 1971 were causing problems. Australian
producers, whose contracts with Japanese importers were mainly based on dollar
values prior to 1971, were pressing for upward adjustment of contractual
prices. Swedish producers, whose contracts with European buyers are usually
based on the krona, were forced late in 1972 to reduce export prices for
1973 deliveries by as much as 15% in order to meet competition in European
snarkets from Australian and other foreign ores. However, U.S. prices for
Lake Superior iron ores and pellets, delivered at lower lake ports, began
to rise in December 1972, and by the beginning of the 1973 shipping season
prices were 5% to 6% higher than those prevailing 1 year earlier. 
 In transportation of iron ore, the size of carriers continued to increase,
with individual cargoes up to 166,000 tons reported in oceanborne trade and
up to 55,000 tons on the Great Lakes. Some ocean cargoes of more thasi 200,000
tons were expected in 
 Physical scientist, Division of Ferrous Metals— Mineral Supply. 


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