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Geologically and scientifically, there are four primary types of iron ore deposits worked upon currently, depending

on the mineralogy and geology of the ore deposits. These are magnetite, titanomagnetite, massive hematite and pisolitic ironstone deposits.

Except as iron-nickel alloys from meteorites and very rare forms of deep mantle xenoliths, Metallic iron is little known on Earth. Comprising about 5 % of the vast majority of the Earths crust, iron is the fourth most abundant element. This metal is bound in silicate or at times carbonates minerals, which is rare. Separating pure iron from these minerals is not easy. There are barriers like those concerned with thermodynamics which become an impediment in separating pure iron from these minerals. They are formidable and energy intensive. This is the primary reason why all sources of iron used by urban industries exploit comparatively rarer iron oxide minerals, the primary form which is used being hematite. Due to the high density of hematite relative to associated silicate gangue, hematite beneficiation usually involves a combination of crushing, milling, gravity or heavy media separation, and silica froth flotation. Generally it is seen that lower-grade sources of iron ore require beneficiation. Due to its magnetic nature, Magnetite is often utilized, and hence easily separated from the gangue minerals and capable of producing a high-grade concentrate with very low levels of impurities. One method relies on passing the finely crushed ore over a bath of solution containing bentonite or other agent which increases the density of the solution. When the density of the solution is properly calibrated, the hematite will sink and the silicate mineral fragments will float and can be removed. During the American Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, much before the industrial revolution which began in England, maximum iron was obtained from widely available goethite or bog ore. Laterite was used by Prehistoric societies as a primary source of iron ore. Historically, much of the iron ore utilized by industrialized societies has been mined from predominantly hematite deposits with grades in excess of 60% Fe. These deposits are commonly referred to as "direct shipping ores" or "natural ores". Increasing iron ore demand, coupled with the depletion of high-grade hematite ores in the United States, after World War II led to development of lower-grade iron ore sources, principally the utilization of taconite in North America. Iron ore mining methods vary by the type of ore being mined.