Ores and Mining

Putting rocks and minerals to work

Stacking iron ore on to blending stockpile at Yandicoogina mine, Western Australia
Source: Rio Tinto

Ores are mineral concentrations from which useful amounts of metals such as gold, copper, iron or nickel can be extracted. Geological processes that form ores usually involve combinations of heat, pressure and the movement of hot solutions.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of raw and processed coal for steel-making, and it is one of the world’s two largest exporters of iron ore. It is the world’s second largest producer of gold and is pre-eminent in exports of titanium and zircon mineral sands.

Mineral prospecting involves looking for geological clues, often in remote and featureless country. The most obvious ore-bodies have already been found. Today geologists use remote sensing techniques and knowledge of the geology of existing ore-bodies to search for similar formations.