Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted. The ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in color from dark grey, bright yellow, or deep purple to rusty red. Iron makes up close to 5% of the Earth’s crust. It takes around 1.6 tons of iron ore to produce one ton of steel. We use 20 times more iron (in the form of steel) than all other metals put together. The primary use of iron ore (98%) is to make steel. The remaining 2% is used in various other applications, such as:
powdered iron—for certain types of steels, magnets, auto parts and catalysts
radioactive iron (iron 59)—for medicine and as a tracer element in biochemical and metallurgical research
iron blue—in paints, printing ink, plastics, cosmetics (e.g., eye shadow), artist colours, laundry blue, paper dyeing, fertilizer, baked enamel finishes on vehicles and appliances, and industrial finishes
black iron oxide—as a pigment in polishing compounds, metallurgy, medicine, magnetic inks, and ferrites for the electronics industry.