Iron is found throughout the earth, comprising about 32 percent of the earth's crust and up to 80 percent of the Earth's core. It is the second most abundant metal on earth.
The five largest exporters of iron ore are Australia, Brazil, India, South Africa and Canada. The largest importers of iron are China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. China, the number one steel producer in the world, purchased 642 million tons of iron ore in 2012, or about 60 percent of all iron ore exports. In contrast, the number two importer, the European Union, only purchased 145 million tons of iron ore.