Mineral Guide > Mining of Metals > Conservation of Iron Ore

Conservation of Iron Ore

Conservation of Iron OreI have for many years been impressed with the steady depletion of our iron ore supply. It is staggering to learn that our once supposed ample supply of rich ores can hardly outlast the generation now appearing, leaving only the leaner ores for the later years of the century.

It is my judgment, as a practical man accustomed to dealing with those material factors on which our national prosperity is based, that it is time to take thought for the morrow.

We are nationally in the position of a large family receiving a rich patrimony from thrifty parents deceased intestate; the President may be likened to the eldest son, and the Governors to younger brothers, jointly responsible for the minors; the experts assembled may be likened to the family solicitors.

Now, the first duty of such a family is to take stock of its patrimony; the next to manage the assets in such manner that none shall be wasted, that all be put to the greatest good of the living and their descendants. Now, we have just begun to take stock of our national patrimony; and it is with the deepest sense of responsibility imposed upon me by the invitation to this meeting, to the nation, and to coming generations of all time, that I speak as one of the junior solicitors.

In my opinion, we should watch closely all the assets and begin both to save and to use them more wisely.

Let us begin with iron: We must in all possible ways lessen the demands upon it, for it is with iron ore we are least adequately provided. One of the chief uses of this metal is connected with transportation, mainly by rail. Moving 1,000 tons of heavy freight by rail requires an 80-ton locomotive and twenty-five 20-ton steel cars (each of 40-ton capacity, or 580 tons of iron and steel, with an average of, say, ten miles of double track with 90-pound rails), or 317 tons additional; so that, including switches, frogs, fish-plates, spikes, and other incidentals, the carrier requires the use of an equal weight of metal.

The same freight may be moved by water by means of 100 to 250 tons of metal, so that the substitution of water-carriage for rail-carriage would reduce the consumption of iron by three-fourths to seven-eighths in this department. At the same time the consumption of coal for motive power would be reduced 50 to 75 per cent, with a corresponding reduction in the coal required for smelting. No single step open to us today would do more to check the drain on iron and coal than the substitution of water-carriage for rail-carriage wherever practicable, and the careful adjustment of the one to the other throughout the country.

Andrew Carnegie.

Hematite Iron Ore picture
Limonite Iron Ore picture
Magnetite Iron Ore picture
Pyrites Iron Ore picture
Specular Iron Ore picture