Iron Mineral Deposits and Projects in People’s Republic of China

With rapid economic growth in China, the demand for iron ore is becoming increasingly strong. The exploration and development of Chinese domestic iron ore projects are gaining more attention, and SRK is assisting various clients with exploration design and management and with securing financing from the overseas market.

In general, the major types of iron ore mineralization in China include:
• Proterozoic-Achaean banded iron formation (BIF) type
• Paleozoic-Mesozoic contact zone/skarn type
• Paleozoic sedimentary type
• magmatic type

1. BIF type is the most important deposit type in China. The BIF iron ore deposits are mainly found along the north margin of the Northern China Platform. Although they possess similar geological features to those in other countries, the deposits are characterized by relatively low grades since there was little secondary enrichment. SRK recently reviewed some BIF iron projects in Hebei and Shandong provinces, and the grades of the projects are usually less than 30%TFe; some of them are even less than 20%TFe. Each deposit usually possesses a few tens to a few hundred million tonnes of mineral resources. Due to the fact that many BIF iron deposits can be developed by open-pit mining, iron concentrate currently has a high price, and since labor is cheap in China, the exploration and development of this type of deposit is increasing.

2. Contact Zone/Skarn type is most important for hosting high grade (>50%TFe) iron resources in China. Iron ore deposits of this type occur in the contact zones between intermediated to acidic magmatic rocks and carbonate/calcic tuff. Deposits of mainly magnetite with different other elements may be formed in the contact zones of different types of mainly Paleozoic-Mesozoic magmatic rocks. The type is widespread over China, while middle and southern China has more mines of the type in operation. The grade of the mineralized material is relatively high, and some of the projects SRK reviewed have average grades of 45%TFe. The resource base of each deposit ranges from a few to a few tens of million tonnes. SRK completed some projects of this type in Anhui province, which are basically in the development and operation stages.

3. Sedimentary type contributes about 8% of overall iron resources in China. The deposits of this type are mainly distributed in the Yangtze Platform and Southern China Folding Zone. The mineralization occurs in shallow marine sedimentary rocks mainly in the Devonian System. Oolitic siderite and hematite are the main ore minerals. Siderite ore has a grade of about 25%TFe and the hematite ore has grades of 35-47%TFe. The resource of the deposit is a few tens of million tonnes. Because the ore usually contains high phosphorus content, many of the iron deposits of the type have yet to be developed. SRK reviewed and valuated some deposits of this type in Hubei province.

4. Magmatic type is the iron ore deposit related to mafic-ultramafic magmatic rocks, and may be formed within rock bodies in the late stage of differentiation by ore magma. This deposit type accounts for about 14% of total iron ore deposits in China. Ores normally contain 25-45%TFe with 5-15%Ti2O5, and 0.2-0.5%V2O5, as well as other useful elements, such as Cr, Cu, Co, Ni, and Platinum group elements. SRK reviewed some projects of this type in Yunnan province.

Anson Xu:

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