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Canadian Iron Ore Market
Iron ore deposits are found throughout the world on all major continents. According to data compiled by the U.S. Geological Institute, Canada, with approximately 1.7 billion t of crude ore and 1.1 billion t of contained iron, is one of the world's major iron ore districts as it hosts the world's 12th largest reserves by iron content, which represents approximately 2.0% of the world's reserves. Iron ore is one of Canada's single most important mineral products in terms of both tonnage and value. The Canadian industry is very sensitive to competition from U.S. mines in the North American market and to competition from countries that ship to the European market.
Canadian iron ore production in 2010 was expected to total 35 million t, or approximately 2.0% of the world's production. Canada is the world's 9th largest iron ore producer and ranks 12th in the world in terms of reserve base.
Data from Natural Resources Canada for 2009 shows that Canada exported approximately 31.1 million t of iron ore (valued at $3,360.6 million), of which 62.7% was pellets ($2,323.3 million) and 37.3% was concentrates ($1,037.3 million), for a 10.9% increase (3.1 million t) in total exports from 2008 (28.1 million t). Although exports of pellets decreased by almost 1.1 million t (5.1%) from 20.6 million t in 2008, exports of concentrates increased 55.0% (by 4.1 million t) from 7.5 million t in 2008.
Canada's principal 2009 export markets for pellets were China (22.4%), the United States (14.8%), Germany (12.2%), France (7.3%), and Singapore (7.0%), and for concentrates were China (28.3%), Germany (23.1%), and France (17.5%). Canadian iron ore producers are the lowest operating cost suppliers of concentrates and pellets to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie Ports, and are cost competitive at Lake Michigan and at Baltimore on the U.S. eastern seaboard. This competitiveness diminishes with an increase in the distance to service other markets. Canada's main competitors for iron pellets are the U.S. and Venezuela with Australia, Brazil and Venezuela being the main competitors for the concentrate market.