Iron Ore

Iron ore is the primary raw material used to make steel. Steel is strong, long-lasting and cost-efficient – making it perfect for everything from washing machines to cars, bridges and skyscrapers.

According to the World Steel Association, steel is the most commonly used alloy in the world. Global steel consumption is forecast to grow by 1%-2% per annum over the next decade.

The first known steel application dates as far back as 11th century BC, in Cyprus where archaeologists found material suggesting that steel knives were already being made. Four centuries later, the Greek historian Herodutus made reference to steel-inlaid bowls and, in the 3rd century BC, South Indian craftsmen were known to produce steel by smelting wrought iron with charcoal, using clay containers.

The Bessemer process to manufacture steel was developed by British inventor Henry Bessemer in the mid-1850s. In the middle of the twentieth century, the Bessemer process was refined into the Basic Oxygen Process that is still used today in blast furnaces.

Today, new technologies have great potential to improve how we engage with our markets. For example, our China portside customers can order iron ore via a website by contacting us.

Costa Mining Iron Ore

Today, we produce five iron ore products in Northern South Africa – including the Pilbara Blend, the world’s most recognised brand of iron ore – used in steelworks as sinter plant feed or direct blast furnace feed.

Pilbara Blend – fines and lump

Our Pilbara Blend products are the world’s most recognised brand of iron ore, and are known for their high-grade quality and consistency. Our Pilbara Blend products make up approximately 70% of our iron ore product portfolio. It is also the largest and most liquid iron in the market today, known as the “US dollar of iron ore”. Our higher grade ores also contribute to reducing GHG and other air emissions, which, along with its liquidity and consistent quality, makes our products the preferred iron ore for the steel industry in China.

Yandicoogina – fines

Our Yandicoogina products have a 58% iron content and low impurities, and produce a high-iron sinter. It is used by customers in East Asia and Southern China as the base load in their sinter blend. 

Robe Valley – fines and lump 

Our Robe Valley products have a lower iron content and a low phosphorus content, which is valued by specialty steel producers with more niche applications.

Our iron ore operations in the Pilbara comprise a world-class, integrated network of 16 iron ore mines, four independent port terminals, a 1,700-kilometre rail network and related infrastructure. Insights from data help us to explore and extract our iron ore efficiently. 

Our Operations Centre in Perth uses next-generation technologies, including artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, to run operations in real-time and respond quickly to changes. Our AutoHaul™ train system is the first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network – one of the world’s largest robots.