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Iron Sands

New Zealand’s abundant iron sand resource

Ancient volcanic activity across West Taranaki and the Taupo Volcanic Zone created rich resources of iron sand. Over the centuries it was carried far along our coasts by rivers and ocean tides depositing vast swathes above and below the shoreline.

Iron sand has been mined in New Zealand since 1850. Onshore sites, such as those at Taharoa and Waikato North, supply the needs of our country's comparatively small steel industry, as well as exporting to international markets such as China and Russia.

Iron sand contains:

  • Magnetite: An iron oxide which is a key component in steel making
  • Titanium Oxide: Required for making titanium used to make alloys used in high-tech applications such as aviation, defence and medical equipment
  • Vanadium Oxide: Used to increase the strength, heat and corrosion resistance of steel. This is particularly used in high grade reinforcing steel for earthquake strengthening in building and construction.